Coney Island Drownings Fail to Deter New Yorkers as City Swelters

The scene at Coney Island on Saturday was typical for a humid and hot weekend in July: colorful towels, tents and umbrellas packed into the strip of sand.

Along the famed boardwalk in Brooklyn, signs warned visitors of the potential dangers posed by lightning or strong currents, and delineated where and when it was safe to swim.

Yet in one area, closed off by small red flags staked into the sand, a handful of people ventured into the water with no lifeguards present. To the east, where two teenage sisters drowned in the water the night before, swimmers splashed around, unaware or undeterred, enjoying an escape from the city’s heat as temperatures peaked just below 90 degrees.

The sisters who drowned there Friday night, Zainab Mohammed, 17, and Aisha Mohammed, 18, were the second pair of teenagers to drown off New York City’s beaches already this summer. At nearby Jacob Riis Park beach in Queens, two boys, ages 16 and 17, drowned just two weeks earlier. Both incidents happened on especially hot days, after the beaches closed but before the sun had set.

Barely two weeks into summer, the number of drownings off New York City beaches this year has already equaled last year’s total of four and surpassed the previous year’s total of three. One of last year’s drownings happened at Coney Island, when a 15-year-old boy was swept away from shore in a current, according to a database the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration maintains.

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