Two teenagers drown on Coney Island Beach

Two teenage sisters drowned while swimming at Coney Island in Brooklyn as a thunderstorm swept through the area Friday night, the second fatality at a New York City beach in less than a month.

Zainab Mohammed, 17, and Aisha Mohammed, 18, were reported missing after falling into the water near Stillwell Avenue shortly after 8 p.m., the New York City Police Department said. Rescue divers picked up the sisters, who were taken to a hospital in critical condition, police and fire officials said.

According to police, they were later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Their father, Mohammed Faye, said his family received a call around 8:30 p.m. Friday from other relatives in the city telling him that two of his daughters were missing. He was told to go to Coney Island immediately, he said in a telephone interview Saturday.

“The whole family rushed to the beach,” said Mr Faye.

Over the next three hours, his family zigzagged from their Bronx home to the beach and then to a police station, he said. By the time they reached the hospital, Zainab had been pronounced dead and medical staff were trying to revive Aisha, he said.

The sisters had been with their grandmother on Friday before heading to the beach with other family members. Mr Faye said he did not know why his daughters, who could not swim, had gone into the ocean, especially at night in less than ideal conditions.

Less than a day after the sisters’ deaths, a man died after being pulled from the water at Inwood Hill Park in upper Manhattan around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. He was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital but died before arriving, police said.

The deaths, which came two weeks after two teenagers died while swimming in the Rockaways in Queens, were a particularly deadly start to the summer season on New York City beaches, where drownings are a persistent problem. With more than two months to go, the city equaled last year’s total of four lives lost.

Weather forecasters had warned of a high risk of rip currents in the area Friday night. The incident was reported after lifeguards ended their shift at 6 p.m.; most recent drownings occurred outside of lifeguard hours, when swimming is officially prohibited.

Last July, a 15-year-old died while swimming at Coney Island Beach, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s database of rip current deaths.

Rip currents kill more than 100 people each year in the United States and account for the majority of beach rescues. Experts advise calmly treading water without immediately attempting to return to shore, signaling for help, and swimming parallel to the beach until you reach an area beyond the rip current.

Earlier this year, city officials announced plans to use drones to help conduct rescues and prevent drownings after a severe shortage of lifeguards last summer. The effort would begin in Coney Island, Mayor Eric Adams said at the time.

On Saturday afternoon, several of the girls’ cousins ​​were spread out across the family’s apartment in the Mount Hope neighborhood of the Bronx, talking quietly and eating takeout as a pot simmered on the stove. A desk fan hummed in the background.

A family photo taken at Chuck E. Cheese ten years ago still hung on the wall, showing the girls laughing with Mr. Faye and another sister.

Mr. Faye said he had driven the girls to Coney Island several times when they were younger, but that at least five years had passed since then.

“I wish they had asked me,” he said, adding, “I would have asked God to take me and leave them.”

Alyce McFadden And Hurubie Meko contributed to the reporting.

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