Law Office of Bruce A. Young

Rip Current Drowning


Summer is here on the Long Island and New Jersey Beaches.  At Jones Beach  Riis Park Beach we need to raise awareness about the dangers of rip tides on the shores of Long Island and Rockaway’s beaches. “While we all love to enjoy spending time at the beach, we must be aware of the hidden danger posed by riptides,” 
“Most drownings occur between five to ten feet of water,”“You don’t need to be out too far to be pulled by a rip current.” Staying in shallow water doesn’t protect a swimmer any more than deeper waters.
If caught in a rip current,  a swimmer should not fight the current, but float or swim parallel to the shore until the current subsides. 

The best way to safely escape riptides is to understand what to look for and know what to do when caught in one. Riptides can be recognized on the surface when unusually choppy water is moving in a straight line away from the beach.

Appellant’s attorney, Bruce A. Young,  raises issues promoting greater safety for the public by advocating on an appeal in the Appellate Division, Second Department why the Court of Claims should have allowed the wrongful death claim of 22 year old NARIE NICHOLAS BALKARAM who died from drowning at Jones Beach August 3, 2009 when the Beach should have provided greater warnings and safety in a dangerous day of rip currents. 

There were 84 drowning in the U.S. in 2015, 2 in New York, 4 in New Jersey between July 4th and August 8th, and 104 drownings in US in 2014, 3 in New York and 4 in New Jersey between June 29th and August 26th.  (Source national weather service U.S. surf zone fatalities 

There were 28 drownings at New York City beaches between  2000 and 2010, 18 of which were attributed to riptides. In 2009, there were six drownings in New York City that were attributed to riptides, up from two the previous year. Rockaway beaches remain the most dangerous, accounting for 20 drownings or 70 percent of the 28 drownings between 2000 and 2010.

In 2009, there were 6 drownings at Rockaway Beach – all of them attributed to riptides. 
By staying informed and alert, swimmers can remain safe and enjoy themselves all summer long.” 

On a late Summer day on August 3, 2009, a 22-year-old, vibrant young man, Narie Nicolas Balkaran (“Narie”), paid the admission fee and took his family to Jones Beach, a Long Island beach operated by the State of New York.  What started out as a pleasant afternoon ultimately became a watery death.  Narie was playing with his 2-year-old daughter Daniella and her mother, Delia, on the beach. 

At the end of the day,  Delia and Narie playfully waded out into the water to cool off, when suddenly an unexpected rip current swept Narie and Delia under the intense current and swept them forcefully out in a rip tide that pulled them out further and further from the shore.  
Narie, seeing his beloved Delia go under and pushed her up to safety, only for him to go out under the tow becoming a victim of the rip current himself.  Narie died on that Summer evening at the time of day at the peak of high tide when there was the most forceful rip current.

A judgment call, to keep the lifeguard operation on the beach open an additional hour, created a false appearance of safety for Narie and a multitude of other patrons. Despite resuscitation efforts by emergency services, Narie died from drowning.

Now, a pending appeal on the legal issues of his death hopes to raise public attention to the hidden dangers and illusions of safety at beach operations run by the state.

Nari’s family seek a face to face confrontation of the credible evidence as to whether the drowning could have been avoided and whether judgment exercised by the supervising lifeguard was inadequate to meet the performance of their duty.  The Appellate Division, Second Department will review the record and hear argument soon regarding these issues.  

Severe weather sometimes causes the underpinnings of rip currents by creating sandbars further out in the water that the channel dug in the sandbar creates the rip current that sometimes occurs several days after a major storm as was the case in 2009.   Given the increased frequency of severe weather warnings, for instance, New York City had 2 hurricanes, the worst in 100 years, that the eye hit New York, Hurricane Irene, followed the year after by Hurricane Sandy, which unexpectedly left many people struggling towards survival and preservation of their homes and lives.  Here, we are concerned with what should be a leisurely day at the beach where we feel protected by lifeguards and paid beach operations gives a false sense of security.  

The date of Narie’s death was part of a 3-day rip current blast that drastically influenced the Jones Beach operation.  Over 400 rescues had to be performed with an inadequate number of lifeguards on duty.  One lifeguard stated it was the “worst day [he had] seen in 18 years.  

Requests by other lifeguards to get police to get people out of the dangerous waters was rejected by the supervising lifeguard, who presided over the beaches where Narie drowned and died.  As high tide approaches, the time considered by most experts and lifeguards the worst time for rip currents, the beach was not closed.  In fact, inexplicably, the beach hours were extended for an additional hour during which time the drowning tragically occurred.  

Narie’s attorney claims that multiple errors of judgment occurred that day.  The beach should have been closed, the supervising lifeguard should have used the police to enforce the prohibition of beach goers swimming in the water, and meaningful signs should have been posted conveying universal language informing and instructing visitors of the dangers of rip currents and how to survive them. (R492, 490)  Instead, a blank prohibition “No Swimming” ( R489) was relied upon  The placements of these signs should have been placed where beach-goers were channeled, so that the signs could be readily observed before entering the beach.   Appellant’s Brief Point 3 pages 35-44 and Record Volume 2 Expert Report R-pgs 478 - 494.

That day, August 3, 2009, ultimately resulted in more than 100 people rescued from the waves (one lifeguard deposition and records reported that as many as 253 to 400 and “too many to count”  were rescued, at that time. (Record pages 400, 587 and 881).  In a tragic miscalculation of judgment,  even though the State should have closed Jones Beach because of the conditions, the authorities improperly exercised their judgment to keep the beach open an extra hour beyond normal closing.   

Drowning is a horrible way to die.  When this case is brought back for the Judge’s factual review in a face to face confrontation scrutinizing those whose questionable judgment caused this wrongful death, following a successful appeal, we believe that it will be difficult for a Judge sitting as a trier of fact, to turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering Narie experienced that day.  The Judge would listen to the panicking bystanders including Delia, for whom Narie gave his life, as they helplessly stood by while Narie was pulled further and further out to sea, his lungs filling with water as he gasped for air with no chance of survival.  Taking his last breath in the Atlantic Ocean, Jones Beach became his graveyard.
Bruce A. Young, Esq.
Attorney for Claimant - Appellant
100 Church Street, Suite 800
New York,  New York   10007
646-775-8994 Cell

RE: Ramkhelawan Seetaram as Administrator of the Estate of 
  Narie Nicholas Balkaran Deceased, Claimant-Appellant,
vs. State of New York, Defendant-Respondent
Appellate Division Second Department, Appeal No. 2014-10092
New York Court of Claims, Claim No. 120054

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