Luis Peralta, was seen struggling in the water near W. 12th St. at approximately 1:30 p.m. before going under, police said. Two hours later Peralta, who worked as a cook in a Woodhaven restaurant, was spotted by a police helicopter. Lifeguards found him unconscious, and he was rushed to Coney Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. Peralta had moved to New York three years ago from the Dominican Republic.According to several published reports, some witnesses said they believed that the lifeguards were too slow in their reaction.Christine Cleland, 40, was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying that it took 30 minutes for the lifeguard to start searching after she had reported Peralta's disappearance. "If the lifeguard had listened when I told him, those minutes could have made all the difference," Cleland said. Adrian Benepe, commissioner of New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation, said the beach was fully staffed and 20 lifeguards responded to the emergency."Right now we're just sorting through the facts," Benepe said. "There are a lot of different versions of the facts.""Unfortunately, they didn't find the victim until it was too late." The tragedy comes just a week after 16-year-old Jermaine Cohen and 40-year-old Wade McDonald drowned off Rockaway Beach. Peralta, like Cohen, did not know how to swim, according to police. Immediately after bringing Peralta to shore, lifeguards rushed to the aid of two children who were being swept out into the ocean. Lifeguards rescued 6-year-old Jordan DeShields of Coney Island after he had been taken out by a rip current and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the child. DeShields was then brought to Brooklyn's Maimonides Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition at press time. Seconds after rescuing DeShields, lifeguards had to rescue a 7-year-old girl who was also taken out by a rip current. Lifeguards were able to treat her on the beach.
©2005 Community News Group
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