A 15-year-old boy drowned and five other people had to be pulled from the water at New Jersey's Sandy Hook Beach where signs were posted Memorial Day to stay out of the ocean. File photo courtesy of Steven L. Markos/National Park Service
May 29 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old boy drowned and five other people had to be pulled from the water at a New Jersey beach where signs were posted Memorial Day to stay out of the ocean.
Sandy Hook Beach on Jersey Shore, which does not have a lifeguard, was the site of six rescues Sunday because of rough waters and rip currents, according to the Long Branch Office of Emergency Management.
The teen, who has not been identified, died at Monmouth Medical Center. Two other people, who were rescued, were taken to the same hospital. Two others were sent to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. A sixth person who was pulled from the water refused medical treatment.
Weekend lifeguards at a nearby beach in Long Branch said they performed 11 rescues over the Memorial Day weekend.
"It was on a lot of news and phones that there was a rip current and stuff, and people still try to press it," the city's chief lifeguard Dan George said.
In addition to the rough waters, a nationwide shortage of lifeguards is adding to the challenge to keep swimmers safe heading into the summer.
"That's why we always try to encourage people to swim only where there are lifeguards present, because your chances of surviving are much stronger," said Denise Blair with the U.S. Lifesaving Association of Monmouth County.
The American Lifeguard Association is warning that pools and beaches could shut down this summer if there are not enough lifeguards to keep swimmers safe.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 70% of drowning deaths occur among children 15-years-old and younger between May and August every year.
Meanwhile, a New Jersey lawmaker is pushing for a bill to mandate water safety education in public schools, but is facing pushback over the expense of adding more instruction.
"If you start getting instruction when you're in kindergarten, by the time you're in high school, you're going to really have some knowledge or training," said Assemblyman Sean Kean.