A heroic dock worker dove into Upper New York Bay on Tuesday afternoon to help rescue six people, including several children, after the group's 15-foot boat capsized near the Ellis Island shoreline. The youngest child, a 5-year-old girl, was recovered from underneath the capsized vessel.
"The boat was completely on her," the dock worker, 20-year-old Kevin Suarez of Statue Cruises, told NBC. "As soon as I pulled her out, she was gasping for air and crying."
The Daily News reports that Suarez noticed the boat listing dangerously close to Ellis Island shortly after 2:00 p.m. When it capsized, he jumped into the river and swam about 70 feet towards the water-treading boaters—one of whom yelled that a small girl was trapped.
"I pulled her with all my might," he said, adding that the girl was swallowing a lot of water.
The NYPD's harbor unit and the US Park Police responded to the shoreline to pitch in around 2:20 p.m., according to a spokesman. The rescue took about 15 minutes, all told. When one of the other girls struggled to climb out of the water, an officer from the harbor unit jumped in after her.
"I just wanted to get the young child out," said officer Jeff Dinoia. "The water was cold and I have two boys of my own."
According to NBC, the boat's water pump had failed, causing it to take on water.
All of the boaters—two men in their 40s, twin 11-year-old girls, a 9-year-old girl, and the 5-year-old—were transported to Jersey City Medical Center in stable condition.