Police recover 3rd body from Rockaway waters

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After several days of searching, the bodies of two teenage sister who drowned in the Rockaways along with their young cousin have been recovered by the Police Department’s Harbor Patrol and Scuba units.

One girl was pulled from the water less than an hour after drowning July 23 and pronounced dead at the hospital.

The three were wading on the beach when a strong current swept them into Reynolds Channel to the east.

The girls — sisters Shageda, 13, and Jubeda Ahmed, 16, and their 13-year-old cousin, Rahela Begun — were all from Paterson, N.J. and of Bangladeshi descent.

Funerals have already been held for two of the girls and relatives told reporters Monday they were relieved by the discovery of the third body.

Relatives and family friends held 24-hour vigils on the beach until the third body was recovered Monday.

The teens went into the water at Beach 19th Street and Seagirt Boulevard in Far Rockaway at about 9:20 a.m., 40 minutes before lifeguards were to come on duty, police said.

The girls’ uncle, Mohammed Islam, was unloading the car when the girls entered the shallows of the ocean and were swept away by a strong current, according to published reports.

The body of Shageda Ahmed, was recovered at 1:40 p.m. Monday about a half mile from shore at Beach 88th Street in Hammels, more than three miles west of where she had waded into shallow water, said Officer Chris Cottingham, a police spokesman.

The body of Shageda’s sister, Jubeda Ahmed, 16, was recovered at 10:10 a.m. Saturday a mile southwest of Beach 36th Street in Edgemere, which is nearly a mile west of where the girls were pulled underwater by the current.

Dental records were used to positively identify both Shageda and Jubeda’s bodies.

A flood tide from the Atlantic Ocean pulled the girls into Reynolds Channel to the east, where Begun’s body was recovered at Beach 14th Street, said John West of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The underlying current below the water surface goes from east to west, explaining why the Ahmed sisters’ bodies were found west of where they entered the water, West said.

Jubeda’s funeral was held Sunday evening at a mosque in Paterson and attended by hundreds, according to published reports.

Both bodies were recovered by members of the New York Police Department harbor and scuba units. The U.S. Coast Guard had initially been involved with the search and rescue effort, but reduced its efforts after a few days, officials said.

The body of the girls’ cousin, Rahela Begun, 13, was pulled from the water by a police officer shortly after she and her teenage cousins were swept away last week. Begun was pronounced dead at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, police said.

Rahela’s funeral, held July 24 at a Paterson mosque, also drew hundreds, according to the Daily News.

The News reported this week that Rockaway Beach is the city’s most dangerous, claiming at least 14 lives in the past 10 years. The TimesLedger could not corroborate this report.

A 40-year-old woman and her 6-year-old daughter drowned off a Far Rockaway beach in June 2000, according to the News.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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