16-Year-Old Lifeguard Dies After Boat Capsizes: ‘No Words Can Express the Sadness’

by Amy Myers

Cape May, New Jersey beachgoers and fellow lifeguards mourn the loss of 16-year-old Norman V. Inferrera III, who died on the job on Thursday, August 19. Around 11:30 a.m. that day, Inferrera capsized while rowing the lifeboat in the ocean. A wave knocked both the boat and the passenger over, and Inferrera became unconscious. City Manager Mike Voll reported that others pulled Inferrera onto the beach immediately following the accident. Fellow Cape May lifeguards performed CPR until an ambulance arrived. Inferrera had taken the boat out as a part of his “routine duties,” however, the residual effects of Tropical Storms Fred and Henri resulted in dangerous conditions on the water.

Once in their custody, a medical team transported the 16-year-old lifeguard to the Cape Regional Medical Center and later airlifted him to Cooper University Hospital trauma center. Unfortunately, Inferrera passed away Friday night.

On Saturday, Mayor Zachary Mullock expressed his condolences for the family and friends of Inferrera.

“No words can express the sadness suffered by all of our Beach Patrol family. Norman chose to protect others. He did so professionally and worked hard at it,” the mayor said in the city’s press release. “That is an extraordinary attribute for anyone, especially at 16 years old. The Cape May community cares so deeply for those who protect us. I know this entire community is going to do anything it can for Norman’s family and friends.”

According to PEOPLE, the 16-year-old lifeguard had a hand in the rescue of a four-year-old child and even helped raise $92,000 for the child, outdoing his original goal of $15,000.

Family Responds to Death of 16-Year-Old Lifeguard

Of course, Inferrera’s death is hardest on his family–both at home and within the Beach Patrol.

“The Lord called my beautiful nephew Norman home last night,” Inferrera’s aunt, Kathleen Price, wrote on GoFundMe. “The family is overwhelmed with sorrow. The bright light in this tragedy is the support and prayers that have been pouring in. We send love and blessings to each and every one of you.” 

Likewise, Chief Harry Back expressed his sorrow over the loss of the “beloved member of our Beach Patrol family.” He described the 16-year-old lifeguard as someone who had “a permanent smile on his face and was living out his dream to be a lifeguard.”

In the absence of their cherished lifeguard, Voll reported that surrounding Beach Patrols have lent their support and staff to the grieving Cape May team.

“Chief Back and the entire Beach Patrol have shown the utmost professionalism, while simultaneously providing care to all those touched so deeply by Norman,” Voll said in the release. “I want to thank all of the Beach Patrols who gave their valuable assets and gave our Patrol help in this time of need.”