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How Lifeguard Shortages Spell Disaster for NYC Residents – What to watch out for in Summer 2023

As summer approaches, NYC officials are still struggling to hire enough lifeguards to cover all posts in the city. What many don’t realize is that this issue has ruined the plans of New Yorkers before, and it could happen again if these posts aren’t filled.

Earlier this week, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue confirmed the city has “roughly a third of the lifeguards it needs to run all of its pools and beaches this summer.” According to Donoghue, there are an estimated 1400 lifeguards needed to operate all of the city’s public beaches and pools – and only about 500 lifeguards are actively seeking employment this summer. This is New York’s “worst lifeguard shortage on record” according to The New York Times.

With millions of people excited to make use of the city’s public beaches and pools starting this weekend, there is a history of danger that this shortage of lifeguards presents. In fact, this is the second year in a row where available lifeguards grossly fail to meet the city’s requirements. Last year, the Gothamist (1) reported that the city hopes to hire twice as many lifeguards this summer as last season – when a staff shortage resulted in horrible loss for some NYC families.

History of Drownings and Preventable Accidents at NYC Beaches

Last June, two teens drowned after NYC opted out of hiring lifeguards on certain beaches in the city. Despite several lifeguards disagreeing with the decision to leave the beach unstaffed, citing safety concerns, the city still left that post vacant.

Lifeguard shortages

On Friday, June 18 of 2022, Rockaway Beach remained without a lifeguard. The beach, appearing to be a haven on the 90-degree day proved to be unsafe for Diaka Kouruma, 16, and another male (18). According to local news reports (2), both individuals fell victim to the tumultuous waters raging from the Beach on 98th Street up to 108th Street.

According to lifeguards and FDNY personnel, no lifeguards were hired to supervise the 10-block stretch of dangerous, choppy beach. What is attributed to as a “national lifeguard shortage” has ultimately already claimed the lives of several individuals.

The Attorneys at Leav & Steinberg have been retained to pursue legal relief on behalf of the family of Diaka Kouruma. As you look forward to enjoying the city’s beaches this summer, please be safe and ensure that you and your loved ones are being cautious.

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