50 Volunteers Needed To Rescue 3 Youths From Swollen New City Stream

Firefighters: Trio who went for thrill ride during Hurricane Irene became trapped in fast-moving waters.

Three young men who thought it would be fun to jump into a flood-swollen stream in New City during Hurricane Irene had to be rescued by a team of more than 50 volunteer firefighters and emergency workers after they became trapped in the racing waters.

New City Fire Chief Artie Kunz Jr. said the rescue operation took nearly 90 minutes and risked the lives of volunteers from New City and special rescue teams that came to New City from other parts of the county to assist in the complicated operation.

Assistant Chief Ken Flynn said the three young men, ranging in ages from 17 to 22, clung to trees until they could be rescued. Kunz said that if the trio had been carried further down stream they very likely would have been killed as the swollen stream went under a nearby bridge.

Kunz called the rescue effort a textbook operation in which no one was injured, however, he said he and other firefighters felt somewhat frustrated because they had to spend so much time and devote so many resources because of the decision of the three young men to go on a thrill ride.

“We had people who had been going non-stop for 18 hours,” Kunz said. “We were frustrated because this isn’t what we were expecting we’d have to do.”

Throughout the storm, New City firefighters had rescued residents of a flooded home on Zukor Road and rescued a man whose car had become trapped in flood waters along Main Street as he was trying to get to work. When the three young men were rescued from the stream, Flynn said firefighters spotted two adults and two children trying to get into the same stream with a kayak — despite the massive rescue effort that took place right in front of them.

A Break In The Action

The rescue effort started just after 1:30 p.m. At that time, a non-stop rush of emergency calls had begun to ease as Hurricane Irene’s winds and torrential rains had died down. Kunz said he was giving firefighters a break so they could rest and have lunch — and then the call came in for a rescue near 4 Pearl Lane in New City.

Flynn said he and fellow firefighter Rich Willows, and his firefighter son, Rich Willows Jr., were the first to arrive and quickly saw that several people had been attempted to rescue the three young men from a swollen tributary of the Hackensack River. Firefighters said the stream is normally about 25 feet wide, but today had reached perhaps a half-mile wide and covered much of a heavily wooded area.

Ropes and a makeshift ladder were found, and firefighters could see one of the youths holding on to a tree, another clinging to a tree and an inflatable tube while the third youth was holding on to a tree and had an inflatable pool raft.

Rich Willows said he, his son and Flynn used a rope to reach the closest of the young men, who was about 50 feet away. But he said boats and additional rescue gear were necessary to reach the other two young men.

New City firefighters brought one of their rescue boats to the stream, with volunteers from Stony Point’s Wayne Hose Co. No. 1 bringing in their rescue boat. Kunz said he also called in assistance from the Rockland Regional Technical Rescue Team, which includes volunteers specially-trained in water rescues.

Flynn said New City firefighters used their boat to reach the second youth, and Stony Point firefighters used their boat to reach the third youth, who was the furthest away. Flynn said the tactical team assisted throughout the operation, assisting with the set up safety lines needed to prevent firefighters from being carried off if they fell into the water.

Kunz said the operation also included New City’s Tower 9 ladder truck. The truck’s bucket was extended over the stream and a ladder was lowered to create a last-ditch spot where the youths could grab on to in case they were swept by the waters toward a bridge.

Kunz said New City had four of its fire trucks at the rescue, with Rockland Paramedics and two New City Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Corps rigs on hand. Additionally, crews from the Town of Clarkstown had heavy equipment on hand to assist with the rescue.

“Everyone really pulled together,” Kunz said, explaining that rescuers were stretched out over about one-eighth of a mile in what essentially had become a fast-moving swamp.

Kunz said paramedics checked the young men after they were pulled from the water to make sure they were not injured or suffering from hypothermia.


L. Thompson August 29, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Thank you New City Fire Dept! Lots of time and work to rescue goofy misadventurers! Kids do need to explore and take risks, but not doing stupid things! And not wasting resources, namely lots of work and lots of taxes. These kids can advance the future of the US if they channel their adventurous spirits in useful directions! Save the planet, kids! Create jobs, invent something! Anyway NCFD, job well done, disaster averted. L.T. New City
Tony T August 29, 2011 at 03:23 AM
A 17 year old and a 22 year old are not kids!! They should have know better and if there is a penalty for this it should be imposed. Unless it's a charge unique to Niagara County NY they arrest people who ride the Falls in a barrel. This was just as stupid if not even more stupid. These jerks are not underage....WHY did you not name them in the article???? These jerks did far worse than any shoplifter at theWN Mall this could have cost some good people their life??
Corey M August 29, 2011 at 06:12 AM
Just being kids, really? Are you the same kind of person who also thinks all kids should receive trophies for participating in little league? These morons need to learn there are consequences for every action. Hopefully not just some fine that mommy and daddy can pay off either. How about we release their names so they can be publicly ridiculed at every step so they can feel the shame that should come along with this. Enough of protecting the youths that are gonna screw the country up further and make the rest of us have to work until the day we die.
Tony T August 29, 2011 at 09:31 AM
Now dare you call this a "goffy misadventure" this men put others are risk due to their carelssmess and stupidity. They are not minors realease their names!!!
Celeste August 29, 2011 at 01:53 PM
These three jerks need to be fined -- not just money, but for time. They must repay the time lost for ALL the rescuers involved in saving their sorry necks over a completely stupid act. These three should be forced to perform several hundred hours of community service for the firefighters, police, and every other rescuer who had to divert their attention and rescue efforts towards three brainless idiots. The punishment of time and physical work levied on these three will make a greater impact on their sorry lives much more than any dollar fine that their parents would most likely end up paying.
Tony T August 29, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Nice language and some real stupid logic. These jerks shouldbe brought up on charges and as for none of the volunteers were never in "serious danger" they should never have been in ANY danger because of these fools.
Tony T August 29, 2011 at 05:04 PM
You are 1000% correct !!!
k fox August 29, 2011 at 07:13 PM
These three young adults(not kids) are a few sandwiches short of a good picnic. They should now have to do community service and volunteer their time. Maybe then they will realize how much danger they put these volunteers in. To all the volunteers in Rockland, thank you for keeping keeping us safe and always being there for us. You are truly special people.
M Auten August 29, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Thank you to all of the New City Volunteer Fireman, Stony Point Fireman and Water Resque Squad for being there risking your lives to save these young men. Plus the countless other people there doing their part in this. Yes, I agree with all, that they should do some serious volunteer "time" for this incredibly stupid thing they did. Not just picking up garbage on the side of the road. Go out with Firefighters and see what they go through to protect each and every one of us. Visit people in hospitals who weren't so lucky or even worse visit a grieving parent who lost a child to a mindless act of so called adventure. When I found them clinging on rafts and trees, I knew what was just ahead of them hidden below the surface. A huge tree that crosses the stream and can only be seen when the water is normal depth. That surely would have done them in. So boys, if you read this....You got your second chance. Use it wisely now and make a difference in this world.
Tony T August 29, 2011 at 09:49 PM
I'm sorry but I disagree....not sure what you can charge these idiots with but if there is a consequence it should not be an alternative sentence but straight jail time!!!!
KB August 30, 2011 at 12:21 AM
seriously, how were names not published? the 17 year old is the only one that makes sense, and even that name should've been published in my opinion. thank you new city FD, new city ambulance corps, rockland paramedics, clarkstown PD, all other rescuers and town employees and good neighbors that assisted in the rescue. as a former EMT in the county i can appreciate all of your hard work and dedication. i am in agreement with the others who think these young men (not YOUTHS) should do an extensive amount of community service hours rather than paying their way out of it (but they didn't even have to do that!). it saddens me to think that they've been sent home with blankets around them but no citations in hand...why are we always afraid to make an example of anyone? make them go bail peoples' basements, chainsaw some downed trees, bring hot meals to all the families with no power...
Tony T August 30, 2011 at 12:53 AM
Yes, why were the "kids" names not published? Could they be related to a local politician or other New City big shot? AGAIN, WHY NO NAMES???? I assume there must be a police report, EMT etc report. If necessary that information can be FOILED!!
Kenny Flynn August 30, 2011 at 03:00 AM
I see that the earlier post defending these boys' actions has been removed. Thank you, Patch. As one of the first arriving Chiefs on scene, I can tell you these boys were in serious danger. Make no mistake, the combination of several trees, weeds, rocks and swift water presented a real possibility of serious injury or death to these young men. The time and effort needed to safely remove them from the water also placed several of my members at risk. As we have now completed our second busy day dealing with the effects of the storm, I can assure the writer of the earlier deleted post that the resources needed to rescue his friends was sorely needed elsewhere in town, for people that did not decide to make a stupid decision like jumping into a swollen creek after a hurricane passed through the area. Please don't insult the over 50 people that came to rescue your friends by saying we were never in any real danger. That's just not true. But we will come out to help- that's what we do. As for the other posters to this article, thank you for your support. As volunteers, your thanks goes a long way. We would also like to thank the members of the Rockland Regional Technical Rescue Team and the Stony Point FD for their assistance yesterday, as well as the RPS, NCVAC and CPD. Ken Flynn 1st. Asst. Chief NCFD
TruthBTold August 31, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Protect those names. Good for you!
TruthBTold August 31, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Corey M - Even more disturbing than your rant, which seems to be a cry for love wrapped in a warm blanket, is your attitude towards children. Although I am not a parent, I am an Uncle to a beautiful 12 year old boy. He lives in a house with his parents of course...AND in that house he has a room...AND in that room there are shelves...AND on those shelves are TROPHIEEEESSSS. It is important for our youth to grow up understanding that a trophy isn't something you receive for winning but something you EARN for trying your best. What about the children who are a part of a winning team but aren't starters? Or the ones who made the most errors? Do you suppose we hand out a trophy to everyone on that team except them? You must be one of THOSE parents that punish your children for not hitting enough home runs. Its no wonder why children are running away or divorcing their parents these days. And if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will and they will end up moving in with a loving & caring Uncle...LIKE ME. Children are delicate flowers. Love is their water.
Joe August 31, 2011 at 02:30 PM
The oldest kid that was involved in this was 19, the others were under 18. Whoever wrote this article had the wrong information. They were not all adults. To everyone that posted on here that complained about "the waste of services" of the emergency response teams, they did a perfect job rescuing the kids from this. "Jail Time?" Are you joking? You must of grew up in New City your whole life and never experienced any real crime around you. Yes these kids made a bad choice, but are you blogging on the article where one of the kids actually died from kayaking on how they are idiots and were a waste of the services of the fire department and rescue teams? I'm sure the parents of the kid who died would love to hear this. Why don't you blog on their site. Three of the kids could have easily died in this incident, then what? You wouldn't be opening your mouth at all. Kids will be kids maybe not the kids of the "perfect new city parents." Yes this was a stupid choice and they could have died but they lived with the help of the fire department and rescue teams, they have learned from their mistakes, after all they did almost die. Kids do stupid things all the time, at least their not robbing houses, dealing drugs, stealing out of cars, smashing mailboxes, or committing other serious crimes.
Anthony August 31, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Joe, I think you may have misinterpreted why some were complaining about the "waste of services". It looks like you think they are complaining about the quality of the response, when I'm sure they are talking about the services used, and the fact that those services were needed elsewhere for other incidents in New City, but were tied up in this emergency. The risk they placed the fire department and other responders in should also never had happened, An EMT in NJ was killed fom injuries he sustained during the storm while in water similar to this rescue. The fact is that these boys, young men, etc. made a poor decision, and that poor decision required the response of a tremendous amount of resources and effort to rescue them. Hopefully, next time they want some thrills, they'll remember that.
Tony T September 01, 2011 at 11:51 AM
18 and 19 year olds should know better. I was in serving in the US Navy at 19 and all grown up! But let's assume, as you do, that 18 and 19 year olds are kids....then where were there parents? So either they are jerks or the parents should be reported to CPS. As to growing in New City....no I grew up in New York City and lived there for 40 years....even in my old neighborhood there 3 would still be jerks.. Their "stupid choice" as you put it endangered their but most importantly the lives of the rescue workers who responded to the call and any other calls that may have came in while these jerks were being saved. Again, I ask why has action not be taken aginst these "kids"......????
Dzeldaz September 01, 2011 at 05:29 PM
The guys made a very poor decision unnecessarily endangering their lives and the lives of their rescuers. Their antics disrespectfully took time the rescuers could have been helping those in emergency situations they did not bring on themselves. Warnings were proactively and actively made to all citizens as to what situations to avoid. Residents were clearly told of the dangers that lay outdoors. The boys flagrantly ignored these warnings. The only ones at blame are the young men as they are old enough to make their own decisions. As to consequences, since there were none issued, they are also old enough to decide on their own. Hopefully, they will find a way to give back to those who saved them. Even before they do that, hopefully there will be a thank-you and apology letter to their rescuers.
Tony T September 01, 2011 at 10:26 PM
A public apology would be perfect in the Journal News would do but jail time would be the best.....but the Journal News or New City Patch never released their names....why would that be?
K September 03, 2011 at 01:49 AM
I am appalled at the responses regarding this incident. I am sure that 99% of the volunteers who rescued these boys do not agree with any of these comments. This is exactly why they volunteer their time and risk their lives, TO SAVE PEOPLE. Regardless of the reason someone is in trouble. You should all take a good look at yourselves and maybe volunteer some of your time for your community. The rescuers did a great job. This is exactly what they train for. Our community is very lucky to have them. The kids made a bad decision, just like a majority of other people who require rescuing. I am very glad that we live in area with the resources that we have. At the end of the day, no one was seriously injured and everyone is safe. That is what really matters. Funny thing is I didn't see too many posts on the GROWN MAN who needed to be rescued out of his car that HE DROVE into the water during the storm.
Rob September 03, 2011 at 05:23 AM
I completely agree that these jerks should apologize on channel 12 and in the local newspaper and also pay a fine. They are not kids Give me a break.
Rob September 03, 2011 at 05:27 AM
Someone is covering up their names. I bet their parents are probably well known in the community. I would bet on it. If they were from say Newark NJ or perhaps another town in Rockland, their names would be published.
Tony T September 03, 2011 at 09:14 AM
You are 100% wrong. First, they were not kids a 17, 18, and 22 year old are not kids. Second, I do not think at volunteers should put their lives at stake for 3 jerks who made as you put it "a bad decision" and Third and most important read the comment by Kenny Flynn Ist Asst Chief NCFD who responded to see what his thoughts were.
Tony T September 03, 2011 at 09:15 AM
There must be a police, medical or fire report all someone need do in put in a FOIL request to obtain copies.
William Demarest (Editor) September 03, 2011 at 01:28 PM
The young men involved in the water rescue in New City during Hurricane Irene have not been charged with any crime, and according to police they do not face any pending charges.
Ken McQuade September 03, 2011 at 02:47 PM
When Someone strays off course at Hook Mountain and needs to be rescued they have to pay a fine. The same rule should apply here.
Tony T September 03, 2011 at 06:26 PM
Tony T September 03, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Were they treated by EMT's ....if so theymust have filled out reports.. Did Rescue Unit fill out a report....I assume they must for their organization. So the "kids" names must be available from somewere. You publish names for everything why not this event.


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