Vallone Brothers Battle Current To Save Drowning Girls
Councilmember Peter F. Vallone, Jr. has a proven track record as a protector of the public interest on dry land.
But did you know, the Astoria lawmaker is also a watchdog for people who run into trouble under water?
Vallone, along with his younger brothers Paul and Perry, saved two young girls from drowning on July 21, in rough undercurrent off the Jersey shore at Long Branch.
Vallone said Long Branch officials, wary of the rough undercurrent, kept beachgoers out of the water “all day” on July 21. But as the beach was closing just before 6 p.m., approximately six unattended youngsters splashed into the cooling surf – and the two youngest girls, ages eight and 10, were sucked out by the current, moving rapidly toward a rock jetty.
Vallone said he caught sight of the near tragedy as he turned back, after searching for the parents of the youngsters.
Perry and Paul, who were closer to the water, dove into the current to pull the girls to safety, Vallone said.
As Peter dove into the undercurrent, Perry grabbed a girl who was closer to the shore. Paul battled the currents and swam to the other girl, who was being towed out to sea, Vallone said. The current was so strong that it took both Paul and Peter to pull the girl to safety.
The girls’ parents spotted a crowd on the shore and were drawn to the site, not knowing their children had just been rescued. “If not for my brothers, they would have drowned,” Vallone said.
Following the incident, the former lifeguards posted a message on Peter’s Facebook page warning beachgoers to use caution and follow instructions – and restrictions posted by lifeguards and officials.
“Holy crap, my brothers and I just had to save two girls swimming after the beach closed,” Vallone wrote. “The ocean is nuts right now and don’t swim without the guards!”
“I have a healthy respect for the ocean,” Perry Vallone said. “When there’s anyone in that situation, in that kind of water, it’s a scary situation.”
Perry saved a life when he was a teenage lifeguard, working at the same beach, Peter Vallone said.
Vallone said the rescue should send a message to swimmers to follow the rules and regulations at all beaches – and for parents, to keep their children in sight at all times.
“Don’t take your eyes off your kids,” Vallone said. “Do not swim in rough water when there are no lifeguards around,” he declared. “It’s bad enough in calm water.”
Vallone said there were lifeguards on the beach until the 6 p.m. closing time, but the children ignored warnings to stay out of the water.
Vallone said his family has a home on the Long Branch beachfront, where they gathered each summer for vacations and weekends. Peter, Paul and Perry each worked as lifeguards on the beach while they were teenagers, Vallone said.