Belmar, N.J. — Rip currents have left one girl dead and two teenagers missing on two different New Jersey beaches where lifeguards were not on duty.

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said a 13-year-old died and her 12-year-old cousin is on life-support after they were found floating facedown Thursday night. Both attended the town’s elementary school, where grief counselors were on hand Friday for the last day of classes.

“They’re just sweet girls who are willing to help other children,” Schools Superintendent David R. Hallman said. “So it’s just a difficult time right now.”

The school just completed a water safety course last week, warning students about potential risks familiar to the popular seaside resort, the mayor said.

“Twelve-year-olds and 13-year-olds go to the beach in Belmar all the time; it’s why we live here,” Doherty said.

The girls’ names have not been released. Doherty said the surviving girl, a fifth grader, remained on life support Friday.

The borough’s lifeguards were to begin full-time staffing of the beaches Monday, once school let out for the summer and students were available to work as lifeguards, the mayor said. Several were on the beach Thursday, although they had left by the time the girls went into the water.

Meanwhile in Atlantic City, the search has resumed for two teens who witnesses say were pulled under by rip currents around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Press of Atlantic City reports one of the still-unidentified swimmers was trying to rescue 15-year-old Kaliy-ah Hand, but both were pulled under the water by the current. A family member told the newspaper Thursday night her last name was Spence, but her father said Friday it was Hand.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said lifeguards had gone home for the day at 6 p.m. before the teens entered the water.

The overwhelming majority of drowning deaths at the New Jersey shore occur after-hours or on unguarded beaches, where lifeguards are not present. It is extremely rare for someone to drown on a beach protected by lifeguards.


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