Two Teens Drown in Riis Park

 Two Teens Drown in Riis Park


By Katie McFadden

Friday, June 21 provided for yet another tragic reminder of why not to go in the ocean when lifeguards are off duty. On the first official day of summer, two teenagers are presumed dead after going missing in the waters of Riis Park.

Shortly after 6 p.m., after lifeguards had left for the day, Christian Perkins, who had just turned 17 the week before, and 16-year-old Elyjha Chandler, close friends since middle school, who both attended and played football for Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, went into the ocean near Bay 2 in Riis Park, to cool off during the heatwave. Despite their athletic ability, their grieving loved ones say the boys did not know how to swim. Witnesses say the teens tried to jump up when a large wave came, but the wave consumed them, and they never resurfaced. By 6:35 p.m., 911 calls were made to report the missing boys.

The call resulted in a massive rescue response that included FDNY Marine Units and divers, NYPD Harbor Units, NYPD Harbor Base Divers, and Coast Guard and water teams from Sandy Hook, Cape Cod and Atlantic City. They searched for the boys until darkness fell on Friday, with no sight of them. They resumed the search the next day, until the search was suspended on Saturday night. Coast Guard crews had searched a total of more than 600 square miles. The search area extended from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to Long Beach, New York, and offshore approximately 20 nautical miles.

“The decision to suspend a search is always difficult and weighs heavily on all involved,” said Capt. Jonathan Andrechik, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York. “Our crews, along with our partner agencies, have conducted an exhaustive search, and our thoughts remain with the families during this difficult time.”

As we go to press, the bodies of young Christian and Elyjha of Brooklyn, have still not been recovered. With strong wind and weather recently, several rip current warnings have been released over the last week, warning swimmers of the dangers of the ocean and advising them to only swim where lifeguards are present.

On Friday, June 28, what would have been his 17th birthday, the family of Elyjha Chandler, is holding a candlelight vigil for the boys at Riis Park Beach from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Guests are asked to wear white or purple and bring candles.

Photos by Tom Farley and Sean Fitzgerald.

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