2006-07-06 / Other News

Search Continues For Victim Of Mill Basin Jet Ski Crash

By Charles Rogers

As of yesterday, rescue crews continued to search the waters in Mill Basin, including beyond the Mill Basin drawbridge, for the missing teenager who was thrown from his jet ski after a collision with another jet ski near his home last Friday afternoon.

The worst fears of the family of 17-year-old Paul Zaccarias were realized when the body of the youth could not be found by NYPD harbor and aviation units, along with Coast Guard rescue crews, firefighters and Jamaica Bay park police, who searched immediately after the 4:30 p.m. accident.

The rescue effort was finally declared a "search" effort by authorities after his body could not be found within approximately three hours of the crash.

Witnesses said Zaccarias was just one of a group of jet ski riders who were "fishtailing" -creating waves by turning fast. He was being followed closely by another jet ski bearing two people and when he turned abruptly, witnesses told reporters, the second vessel crashed into him, catapulting him into the air. When he hit the water, he disappeared, said one witness. Officials said he was not wearing a life jacket.

A woman on the shore who saw the accident dove in the water to try to save the boy, but said she was unable to find him.

The two jet skiers who hit Zaccaria's vessel were not injured, and ran ashore and called for assistance immediately. Police said the 16-year-old driver and his 20-year-old passenger would not be charged in the accident.

Meanwhile, according to NYPD spokesperson Melissa Klein, the official search was suspended after dusk but was restarted in the morning and continued throughout the holiday weekend and into yesterday.

Coast Guard officials said their boats were in the channel near the Mill Basin bridge keeping boat traffic from the site.

Although most swimming and boat traffic in the vicinity of the crash was suspended, residents who live in the area have also continued looking for the youth's body every day since the crash.

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