Reports say that two 13-year-old boys of Indo-Caribbean parentage drowned last Friday in Jamaica Rockaway Bay, New York, while at an unauthorized outing. The boys were supposed to be in school but the duo and a few other boys did not attend classes and decided to go to the beach. Others from the group were reportedly helped ashore by emergency responders. The boys attended the prestigious Heroes Junior High Academy, MS 137, in Ozone Park. The school has been in mourning with staff and students attending the wake and funeral services.
The area is known for dangerous rip currents that took many lives over the years. Signs posted on the beach warn no swimming.
The parents of the boys are heartbroken. One of the boys’ fathers resides in Guyana. Both boys reside in the greater Little Guyana community of Richmond Hill. The tragedy has been the talk among every NY Guyanese and other city dwellers. The tightly knit Guyanese community in Richmond Hill has been in mourning with prayers offered at Mandirs on Sunday morning.
Wake was held at the home of victim Daniel Persaud on Saturday evening and a prayer vigil was held for both boys on Monday evening at the bay where they drowned. Police cordoned off the Howard beach area to facilitate the prayer program which was attended by a large gathering of Guyanese, school staff, and others.
Reports say that Ryan Wong and Daniel Persaud were standing on a sandbar in Jamaica Bay near Beach 96th Street and Cross Bay Boulevard around 11:40 a.m. Friday when it apparently collapsed and they went underwater. Their surfboard got pulled underwater by the strong rip current.
The fire department and police department and aviation wing were summoned for a search and rescue operation. Nine police and fire department divers went searching for the kids over a lengthy period and pulled out the two motionless boys who were rushed to Jamaica hospital where they were declared dead. One boy was found an hour later and the other one some 45 minutes after the other one.
The mothers of both boys wrote fondly of them. Wong’s mother Gloria wrote on Facebook: ‘Rest In Peace little Ryan I love you. You will forever live in our hearts.’
Persaud’s heartbroken mother Samantha Singh took to Facebook early Saturday.
“Our son you left us today I am lost for words and my soul is bleeding and our hearts are shattered,” she wrote. “Oh god I don’t know how we will live past today or any other day … my son, my handsome smart son Daniel Persaud, you left your family my son … sleep high my prince Daniel mommy loves you so much. You were only 13 years old and went out to a beach to have fun and it carried you away from us”.
Daniel Persaud reportedly liked building computers and technology. Family members say everyone is in shock now. The family is devastated.
Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park), the elected city representative for the area, wrote on social media Friday night, “Tonight we grieve the loss of two young students from our district. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family, friends and school community.”
Viewings for Wong were Tuesday and Wednesday at Leo F. Kearns Funeral Home in South Richmond Hill from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will be Thursday morning.
A viewing for Persaud takes place at Bergen Funeral Services in South Ozone Park on Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m with the funeral on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Dr Dhanpaul Narine visited the Persaud family.