A Pleasantville teen died a hero, trying unsuccessfully to save his friend from a power rip current off the Atlantic City beach Thursday night.
Ramon Quinn, 15, jumped into the water off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard just before 6:30 p.m. Thursday night, after he saw the girl struggling, witnesses told police.
The group of friends had been enjoying the beach about a half-hour after lifeguards went off duty when 16-year-old Kaliyah Hand got caught in the current, Sgt. Kevin Fair said.
Lifeguards a station away rushed to the scene along with firefighters and police. But by the time rescuers got there, neither teen was visible.
“I’m not surprised he died trying to save a life,” Quinn’s stepfather, Will Black, said. “He had a good heart.”
She was known as Kiki. Some called Quinn by the name Jamal.
“Call him hero,” said Hand’s uncle Billy Peyton, “because that’s what he was.”
Members of the city’s Beach Patrol, Police and Fire departments, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and State Police searched for the teens until about 10 p.m. Thursday, when it got too dangerous for rescuers. The search resumed early Friday morning, but a rough ocean and thick fog made it difficult.
“Last night, we were waiting for a rescue,” Hand’s grandmother, Shirldine Stewart, said. “Today we’re just hoping for recovery.”
She just wants her granddaughter brought home, she said.
The girl — known as Kiki — is the third young person in the family to die within the past 18 months, her grandmother said. One cousin was lost to a drug overdose. Another, the victim of violence in Virginia.
Both teens also recently lost their mothers: Quinn’s died about three years ago. Hand lost her mom in January.
Loved ones at the scene hugged and sobbed following a press conference to update the public on the situation.
A friend of Quinn’s had to be given oxygen after suffering what medical personnel were heard calling a panic attack.
The families have planned a vigil on the beach for 8 p.m. Friday.