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Flushing 15-year-old perishes in rough waters off Long Beach

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Yuhang Gao was swimming with a group of about a dozen friends in the water near the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and Ocean Beach Park when turbulent waters pushed the swimmers into a large rock formation, police said. His friends managed to swim to shore, but Gao did not make it back.Police got a call to respond to a group of swimmers who received lacerations from swimming too close to a jetty at 3:36 p.m."Officers spoke to group of youth who stated one of their friends was missing, said Long Beach Police Department Lt. Bruce Meyer. "They stated that the group went into the water and the waves and currents were getting rough and they were getting pushed up into the rocks."Area emergency personnel quickly launched a full-scale search-and-rescue sweep of the beach. The Nassau County Bureau, U.S. Coast Guard, New York Police Department Aviation, Nassau County Police Department Aviation, Freeport Dive Team, Long Beach Fire Department and several life guards responded to the call."They did everything they could," Meyer said. "We notified everyone we could to help try to save this kid."Forty-seven minutes later, Meyer said, Gao was found floating in the water unconscious, just east of the jetty. He was rushed to Long Beach Medical Center by ambulance with a full police escort, but by then it was too late. Gao was pronounced dead at 5:25 p.m.Gao attended the Bronx High School of Science where classmates and teachers remembered him as a fun-loving kid who enjoyed playing handball and lifting weights, the New York Post reported.Although unable to give specific numbers on the number of deaths by drowning at Long Beach, Meyer said such incidents are always a danger during the summer months."It happens more than we'd like," he said. "I've been here 21 years and I don't know if it's every year, or every other year, but it has happened before."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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