Officer Calls Upon Previous Lifeguard Experience to Save Struggling Swimmer in Rockaway Beach

Police Officer William Lauria and Sergeant Matthew Lewis were patrolling the boardwalk when a call came over the radio about a woman in distress in the water. Although Officer Lauria is normally assigned to the 105 Precinct, he is serving the people of the Rockaways as part of the 100 Precinct summer detail. A former lifeguard, Officer Lauria spent his summers working at a pool in Hempstead, Long Island. In hopes to put this previous training to use, Officer Lauria and Sergeant Lewis rushed to the call.

When they arrived on the scene, Officer Lauria handed off his belt and firearm to Sergeant Lewis. As he entered the water, the NYPD Aviation Unit was hovering above ready to provide assistance. As Officer Lauria approached the woman, he noticed another struggling swimmer about 10 yards away. The Good Samaritan had jumped into the water in an attempt to help the woman, but he too had been overcome by the choppy waters.

Quick-witted Officer Lauria coordinated with a nearby surfer to help the Good Samaritan while he guided the struggling woman to safety:

“I just told her to remain calm and that everything was going to be alright.”

Officer Lauria strategically rode the waves back 15 yards toward land where they were able to walk the rest of the way to the shore. Emergency medical services were waiting on scene to ensure the beachgoers received immediate medical attention. Officer Lauria has been on the job for over a year and considers this day one of the most rewarding days of his career thus far:

“This is why I took the job. I’ve always wanted to be a police officer, I’ve always loved helping people. I was fortunate enough, the other day, to have the opportunity to give back and help the community in a positive way.”

For those who plan on spending time at the beach this summer, Officer Lauria recommends that you know your strengths as a swimmer and stay out of the water when there are no lifeguards on duty.