Two toddlers playing on a pool float at Meschutt Beach County Park in Hampton Bays drifted away into the Peconic Bay Monday evening, but were quickly rescued by Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs.
At about 5:40 p.m., the deputies, assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Marine Bureau, received a radio call from the U.S. Coast Guard that a raft was adrift with the children — ages 2 and 3 — on board, just west of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays.
Deputy Sheriff Thomas Lyons and Deputy Sheriff Joseph Gallo arrived on scene with Marine 1 at about 5:45 p.m. They met up with a Southampton Town Bay Constable Chris Fraser who was with the children’s grandmother, Claudia Meza of Hampton Bays. Meza said she tried to swim after the children when what the Sheriff’s office described a small pool raft, floated away from the shore, but could not catch up to it.
The sheriffs’ boat found the children about a quarter-mile offshore, still on the float. A good Samaritan, identified as Tony Lemos of Freeport, had seen what was happening from the beach and borrowed a paddle board and was able to reach the children’s raft, according to Chief Michael Sharkey in the Sheriff’s office. However, due to the current and wind was not able to get the raft back to shore.
The children were wearing life vests. Although the children were still on the float, it could have easily tipped over or popped during the scary episode, Sharkey said.
The deputies got the children and Lemos onboard Marine 1 and went to the Shinnecock Marina, where the children were met by the grandparents. The children were unharmed.
“These little children will remember this day for the rest of their lives, and it’s one of those stories that will be retold for generations,” Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. said in a statement thanking the deputies and the paddle boarder for their quick response. “I’m glad that Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs were on the scene, and between their efforts, the Bay Constable, and the good Samaritan, this whole incident will be fondly remembered.”