Authorities have discovered the body of a teenage boy who was reportedly pulled out to sea by a riptide while swimming at Rockaway Park beach past weekend.
An NYPD spokesperson said a corpse with no obvious signs of trauma was discovered at Beach 97th Street on Tuesday morning. The body was later identified as 17-year-old Lamine Sarr, who was last seen on Saturday swimming with two friends in the surf at Beach 84th Street.
According to a longtime friend of all three boys who spoke with the NY Post, the Queens teenagers were not strong swimmers, and never intended to go in past their waists. "After a little while they couldn’t feel their feet touching the ground, [they] turned around, and Lamine wasn’t there," the friend told the tabloid.
Two of the boys had already made it back to shore by the time first responders arrived on the scene at 5 p.m. on Saturday. But there was no sign of Sarr. The search continued until marine units were able to locate the body this morning.
Family members and friends described Sarr as "happy," "intelligent," and "helpful," noting his love of music and basketball.
— Kemberly Richardson (@kemrichardson7) September 16, 2018
The Daily News spoke to the victim's mother, Khady Bittaye Sarr on Monday, who said, "The only thing I want is to find my son. I know he’s dead, but I want to see my son, and (to) get help to send my baby back home—to Africa, to Senegal."
On Monday afternoon, friends and family gathered at the Channel View School for Research in Rockaway Park to celebrate the high school senior's life. "He was an amazing person. He didn't deserve this," a friend told NY1.
According to the National Park Service, there was a "moderate risk" of rip currents reported for the weekend. Beach season had concluded one week earlier, so there was no lifeguard on duty, the City Parks Department said.
Around 100 people die in rip currents in America each year. In the United States, swimmers are typically advised to paddle parallel to shore to escape the deadly currents. But in other countries, like Australia, recent research into rip tides has pushed authorities to alter their recommendations—in some cases urging swimmers to "give in and go with the flow," until they are hopefully swept back to shore.
“Everything we’ve done points to the fact that there’s not one single message that works," Rob Brander, a professor at the University of New South Wales who works closely with the country's main water safety group, told Outside Magazine. "Sometimes swim parallel is great, sometimes it doesn’t work. Same for floating."
The City Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation remains ongoing.