A relaxing afternoon at the beach became a dangerously close save when Councilmember Peter Vallone and his younger brothers, Paul and Perry Vallone, rescued two young girls from drowning at a New Jersey beach.
The brothers, who spent their adolescent summers lifeguarding on the same Long Branch coastline, were enjoying the sand and sun on Saturday, July 21. Peter sat in a beach chair reading a newspaper as his brothers waded knee-deep in the rough surf. Lifeguards had closed off swimming at the beach earlier that day due to inclement weather and a treacherous undertow. At 5 p.m., the lifeguards vacated the beach.
Perry and Paul watched a group of six kids walk into the choppy water. They scanned the beach, but the children’s parents were nowhere in sight.
When Perry turned back to check on the children, they were already in trouble.
Two girls, ages eight and 10, were swept out by the rough current, moving quickly towards a rock jetty. Paul and Perry dove in to pull them out as Peter saw what was happening and bolted down the beach towards the water. As the three former lifeguards swam the girls to the shore, their parents noticed what was happening. Once safely on the shore, the girls thanked their saviors repeatedly.
“If not for my brothers, they would have drowned,” said Peter.
Both Peter and Perry said the scenario, even for former lifeguards, was terrifying.
“I have a healthy respect for the ocean,” said Perry, who had saved someone when he was a teenager working as a lifeguard at the same beach. “When there’s anyone in that situation in that kind of water it’s a scary situation.”
Peter said the situation is a nod to beach safety and the importance of obeying lifeguard rules as well as keeping a steady watch over children.
“Don’t take your eyes off your kids,” said Peter. “Do not swim if rough water when there are no lifeguards around. It’s bad enough in calm water.”