Questions remain in shore drowning incident

July 14, 2008 5:09:07 PM PDT
There are more questions than answers in the wake of this weekend's drowning incident off Wildwood, New Jersey. But this everyone knows: What started out as a fun jaunt into the ocean ended in tragedy. A vacation video captured 3 friends at a family outing as they jumped into the churning Wildwood surf Saturday evening. Moments later disaster strikes, a powerful rip current. Only one makes it safely to shore. 28-year-old Juan Moore is dragged away from his loved ones as his father explains.

"He started yelling, 'Help, help.' But nobody could help my son. And by the time they got there they couldn't find his body."

John Moore says his son Juan, who worked at the Convention Center, was a family man who doted on his young son.

Without a body the elder Moore hopes his son is still alive. Moore's son in law Ismael "Joey" Lopez did perish despite efforts to revive him. At the home of Lopez's brother family and friends grieved. The sole survivor of Saturday's incident declined to talk to reporters but told Moore the force of the undertow was staggering as he tried to save Lopez.

Juan's father tells us, "He was trying reach for my son in law... and I guess his arm slipped off him. Because he was caught in something pulling him down."

Moore and his eldest son traveled to Wildwood today to learn more from officials. Moore wants to know why in the face of ocean conditions the beach had not been closed, or at least had warning flags posted.

Wildwood does not use warning flags. Officials say they stress to the public not to swim when lifeguards are not on duty.

Chief Lou Cirelli of the Wildwood Beach Patrol says, "When lifeguards are not there do not go in the water. The water is very dangerous. Deceptively dangerous - very inviting, but it can be very dangerous."

Cirelli said Saturday's incident occurred at about 7 p.m. - a full 90 minutes after Wildwood lifeguards went off duty.


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