A sixth grader at Columbia Secondary School drowned while on a school field trip to Long Beach yesterday. Twelve-year-old Nicole Suriel disappeared while swimming and was found nearly an hour and a half after other students and adults realized she was missing. WPIX reports, "At some point got swept by a current, ending up in an area far from view"; Nicole was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

There were no lifeguards on duty at Long Beach (they are on duty during the weekend) and city manager Charles Theofan said there are warnings on signs posted by the beach. (Lifeguards were on the beach, because they were training in preparation for their weekend duties and working week day, starting next week; they and police officers help with the search.) Now the question is why the adults—two licensed teachers and an intern—allowed the children into the water.

Theofan told Newsday, "I can tell you her teacher made a valiant attempt to save her; the teacher went in the water looking for her, got pretty banged up against the jetty and had to be rescued." The students were part of a June term class studying water; Theofan told the Post, "One of the detectives told me that the teacher told the kids not to swim. But how do you control 12-year-olds?" One parent, David Suker, raged to WCBS 2, "He sent a lone teacher out there with two interns, a first-year teacher to supervise I don't know how many kids. He is responsible, the principal, Jose Maldonado."

Two other students were rescued from the water. The field trip's bus driver was summoned back to the beach to take the children back to their school in Morningside Heights, where police officers and DOE officials met them. Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg said, “Let’s not go and rush and assign blame. I think at this point what we have to focus on is maybe grieving and having a prayer for the child and see if we can help the parents through what is obviously the most difficult situation any parent could possibly experience. We’ll focus on that right now." And Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said, "Obviously, we are working diligently to determine exactly what happened and to provide immediate support to the students and staff of the school."

Still, concerned parent Suker said, "Dr. Maldonado has a history of not having proper regulations. I've continually spoken out against this…He's the building leader, and he's openly responsible. If its not his fault, it's Chancellor Klein's fault, and if it's not Klein's fault, it's Bloomberg's fault."