Pennsylvania Father Dies After Being Swept Out to Sea at New Jersey Beach

by Taylor Cunningham

A Pennsylvania man has died after being swept out to sea while swimming with his son off an unprotected beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

The incident happened at about 12:30 PM on Sept 8th 56-year-old Shawn Reilly got caught in a rough current, according to police. With no lifeguards on duty, Reily’s son, 21, attempted to rescue his father. But the surf trapped him as well.

Someone on shore alerted an Ocean City Beach Patrol rapid response team. Three lifeguards arrived on the scene and brought both men ashore. Reilly was unresponsive, and the guards immediately began CPR.

Ocean City New Jersey Fire and EMS units took over CPR and rushed the man to a local hospital. But when they arrived, doctors declared Shawn Rielly deceased. His son survived.

“To see that happen, running as fast as they ran and they’re jumping on, trying to resuscitate him and say he’s not breathing… it just stops you in your tracks because you’re here and you’re supposed to be happy,” beachgoers Donna Zenszer told ABC6. “It really makes you think twice when you look at that water.”

“It just was tragic because you come here to have a wonderful time at Ocean City. And then you find out these rip currents. Maybe they didn’t know, but it was really hard to watch,” another witness, Doris Schmelzer, added. “The whole beach was silent.”

Hurricane Earl Continues to Bring Dangerous Conditions to New Jersey Beaches

According to Fox5 NY, the dangerous conditions on Thursday came from swells brought by Hurricane Earl, which is currently threatening Bermuda. And ahead of the drowning, The National Weather Service had already announced a high rip current warning for New Jersey beaches. Meteorologists predict that life-threatening surf conditions will continue throughout the weekend.

To make matters worse, because the summer season ended on Labor Day, fewer lifeguards are on duty. So swimmers must be more aware of the conditions and know what to do if they encounter an undertow.

“A rip current, or an undertow as they call it, never pulls you straight down, it only pulls you out,” Chuck LaBarre, Margate City Beach Patrol Captain, shared. “So maintain calm and try and get out of it when you get pulled out and swim in.”

Officials remind people to always relax if they hit a rip current because they don’t pull you underwater. And trying to swim against one is useless, you will only use up their energy. So instead of swimming toward land, swim along the shoreline until you’re away from the current.