NJ dad who drowned saving daughter was FDNY firefighter
🌊 A father's body was recovered after he tried to save her from a rip current
🌊 The dad has been identified as a longtime firefighter for FDNY
🌊 There were no lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident
AVON-BY-THE-SEA — A man from Teaneck who drowned trying to rescue his daughter from a rip current has been identified as a longtime firefighter for New York City.
Mark Batista, 39, was a "dedicated public servant" assigned to Engine Company 226, according to the FDNY. A statement from the department said he had served for 15 years as an EMT and a firefighter.
“We are heartbroken to learn about the death of Firefighter Mark Batista, who died Friday while swimming at the Jersey Shore," the FDNY said. "We join his family in mourning his tragic passing.”
Batista's 15-year-old daughter was swimming off the Sylvania Avenue beach at Avon-by-the-sea around 8:35 a.m., according to local police. The firefighter immediately went in to save her but he was swept under. Signs at the beach showed there are no lifeguards on duty at the beach on weekdays until June 17.
As Batista dove into the water, his son called 911 to get help, according to a GoFundMe for the family organized by Engine Company 226. The fundraiser had raised over $32,500 as of 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.
Rescue crews were able to get the teenage girl out of the water. She was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center and is doing well, the GoFundMe said.
A large response included "rescue swimmers, divers, boats, jet skis, EMS, PD, and drone operators" from several nearby municipalities, State Police, and the Coast Guard, according to the Area Network Of Shore Water Emergency Responders (ANSWER) Team.
But more than an hour passed before a Coast Guard helicopter spotted Batista. Around 10 a.m., a member of the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office recovered the father's body about 50 feet off the shore.
"In the wake of this morning's unfortunate incident in Avon where a man drowned while trying to rescue his daughter after she was caught in rough surf, we once again caution all to please NOT go in the water when there are no lifeguards on duty," the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook.