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Firefighters Save Drowning Surfer

Firefighters Save Drowning Surfer

Rescuers pull unconscious surfer from the water after he got caught under jetty in the Rockaways Friday. [Source: Unknown]

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

November 13, 2010

NEW YORK – A surfer was clinging to life Friday night after firefighters pulled him from the choppy waters of the Rockaways.

The 20-year-old victim got tangled in a jetty off the boardwalk near Beach 92nd St. about 4:15p.m., officials and witnesses said.

Fellow surfers swam to help the distressed man, whose ankle tether – a line that ties the board to the surfer – appeared to be snagged on a wooden post, witnesses said.

An off-duty firefighter jumped in the water and freed him as two other smoke-eaters in wetsuits rushed in to assist the group, witnesses said.

“That dude is a hero,” said the surfer’s friend, who wouldn’t identify himself. “I don’t even know who he is … but he’s a hero.”

The man was taken from the surfers-only zone to Peninsula Hospital in critical condition, officials said.

His family and friends were at his bedside last night.

The victim’s friends appeared devastated as they watched the man be dragged to shore.

“He didn’t look good at all,” said Angel Andino, 19. “There were three surfers around him, crying.”

Later in the evening, there seemed to be a flicker of hope.

“His eyelids are moving,” said one of his pals. “He’s responding to voices. He’s doing better than when he came in.”

Near the same jetty – an area known as “The Sticks” – a 36-year-old surfer drowned exactly a year ago after he was knocked off his board.

In that incident, two firefighters plunged into the storm-churned 8-foot waves to rescue the man, who later died.

“It can be dangerous – those things sneak up on you,” said Clarke Tolton, 34, of Brooklyn. “Unless you have the strength to reach down and pull the leash off, you’re pulled under the water.”