A witness said the children became overpowered by a wave.
BRIGANTINE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A woman is in critical condition after she tried to rescue her two children in the ocean in Brigantine, New Jersey.
Police and firefighters responded to a 911 call at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday for a swimmer in distress
A witness called 911 and said the two children became overpowered by a wave.
The mother came in to help, but also became distressed, the witness said.
Beach Patrol said lifeguards were not on duty for the day at the time but were nearby training.
"A gentleman ran up from 7th Street south to the guards here at 15th Street saying that there was someone in trouble," said Brigantine Beach Patrol Chief Kip Emig.
The lifeguards rushed to help. One child had already made it out of the water when they got to the scene.
The other child was in the ocean with his mother.
Beach Patrol said when the woman was pulled from the ocean she was unresponsive. They immediately started CPR; she was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, where she is listed in critical condition.
The children were evaluated and reunited with family.
Emig said the nor'easter back in May left some hazards that are still underwater.
"There's still some pretty deep gullies and it's very shallow out past the gully, but it's pretty deep right off the shore here," said Emig.
He said lifeguards are trained to look for those hazards and are familiar with the conditions at the beach - another reason to only swim in the ocean when the guards are in the stands.
Emig said there is usually a standby crew of lifeguards on call for several hours after the guards leave the stands in Brigantine. He said to always call 911 in case of an emergency so all resources know to respond and help.