2005-06-30 / Front Page

YOUTH IN COMA AFTER SPRING CREEK TRAGEDY

By Charles Rogers

Police Emergency Service Unit scuba divers adjust their equipment as NYPD patrol boat in background and other personnel search waters of Spring Creek at foot of Fountain Avenue landfill after 17-year-old nearly drowned there last Monday.    Police Emergency Service Unit scuba divers adjust their equipment as NYPD patrol boat in background and other personnel search waters of Spring Creek at foot of Fountain Avenue landfill after 17-year-old nearly drowned there last Monday. A 17-year-old boy was taken to Brookdale Hospital in critical condition Monday afternoon after he nearly drowned in the murky waters of Spring Creek near the Belt Parkway overpass. Although family members asked that his condition not be divulged at this time, sources said Alberto Cruz remains in a coma and might have suffered brain damage.

Scores of emergency personnel, from firefighters to harbor patrol to police helicopters and EMS were called to the scene at about 2:15 p.m. when Cruz, who was visiting relatives in East New York from Jamaica, apparently became mired in the quicksand-like muck while he and a neighbor were crabbing. The incident occurred near the southern bank of the Jamaica Bay inlet at the base of the Fountain Avenue landfill almost directly under the overpass.

Friends and relatives of the youth raced to the scene and tried to jump into the water after him as police scuba divers retrieved his nearly lifeless body. The Emergency Services Unit cops and EMS paramedics used a defibrillator to try to revive him, according to police.

Police from the 75th Precinct said Cruz had just snagged a basket of crabs and, while his neighbor was busy tending to a catch, apparently decided to wade farther out in the water and was pulled under. The neighbor lost sight of him and a passing postal worker, seeing the distressed neighbor, called 911. Emergency units, including the NYPD Harbor Patrol divers, had to search in the muddy waters and pulled the victim free. Sources said he had been under the water for almost 20 minutes.

He was taken to Brookdale Hospital where, authorities said, emergency room doctors were able to detect a pulse and attached him to a respirator.

Cruz’s father, Miguel Torres, in a television interview on Channel Two, said he was hopeful his son would survive.

“I know there is a God who does miracles,” he said. “I want a miracle.”

At first police and firefighters said they thought it was a small boy who had drowned when he tried to go swimming at the bank of Spring Creek because residents in the area said, “kids sometimes go swimming there.” One man said the banks at one time had been fenced off to prevent swimmers from jumping in.

“They gotta put the fence back and keep people from crabbing here too,” he said.

See story on page 3. Charles Rogers

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