A teenage lifeguard from Pennsylvania was killed in an accident off a New Jersey shore beach, authorities said.
The Cape May city government said Saturday that 16-year-old Norman Inferrera III died after Thursday's accident off the Reading Avenue beach.
Officials said that current information indicates that Inferrera was rowing a lifeguard boat that was broadsided by a wave and flipped over, knocking him unconscious. Fellow lifeguards responded immediately, and he was flown to Cooper University Medical Center in Camden, where he died Friday night, officials said.
The Phoenixville, Pennsylvania youth had recently completed his training and was spending his first summer working as a lifeguard at Cape May, city manager Michael Voll told NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. The surf was rough that morning and Inferrera was patrolling the waters to keep swimmers close to the shore, Voll said.
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Mayor Zachary Mullock said his “heart, prayers, and condolences" go out to the family, adding that “even at such a young age, Norman was loved by his fellow lifeguards."
Beach Patrol Chief Harry Back said Norman “had a permanent smile on his face and was living out his dream to be a lifeguard.”
Kathleen Price, the boy’s aunt, told NJ Advance Media that the family's grief is “overwhelming.” Inferrera, who also lived part-time in North Wildwood, kept himself “in top physical shape” and would often arrive early and stay late to participate in more lifeguard activities, she said.
“He absolutely loved his job,” Price said, saying he was involved in a number of rescues, including that of a 4-year-old. She called him an “exceptional young man” who did well in school and was “respectful and kind to everyone.”
Grief counselors are being provided for all beach patrol staff, officials said, adding that even those who have returned to winter locales “are always members of our Cape May family, and we stand ready to wrap our arms around all who need it."