A father who drowned last week while trying to rescue his child from a rip current at the Jersey Shore was a New York City firefighter whose career in public service dated back 15 years, officials confirmed on Sunday.
The man, 39-year-old Mark Batista, died at the New Jersey beach town Avon-by-the-Sea on Friday morning while he off duty after jumping into the ocean to save his teenage daughter, who was caught in a rip current at the time, CBS New York reported, citing police.
FDNY Firefighter Mark Batista drowned in Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey, on June 9, 2023, while trying to save his daughter, who was caught in a rip current
A rip current is essentially channel of moving water, somewhat like a river, that forms in the ocean and flows away from the shoreline and out to sea.
Authorities originally identified Batista as a resident of Teaneck, but they did not release his name. The New York City Fire Department later confirmed his identity in a statement obtained by CBS News on Sunday, which noted that he had served as both an EMT and a firefighter for the department over the course of 15 years.
Batista worked at Engine Company 226 in Brooklyn, according to CBS New York.
“We are heartbroken to learn about the death of Firefighter Mark Batista, who died Friday while swimming at the Jersey Shore,” the FDNY said in the statement.
“Firefighter Batista was a dedicated public servant who spent fifteen years serving in the FDNY, as both an EMT and a firefighter. We join his family in mourning his tragic passing.”
Police and a water rescue team used jet skis to search for Batista and his daughter at the beach on Friday, after witnesses on land observed and reported the apparent drowning, CBS New York reported.
Batista was found and then transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The teenager survived and was taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center after her rescue.
There were reportedly no lifeguards on duty at the Avon-by-the-Sea beach where Batista drowned on Friday. Regular weekday lifeguard shifts will begin this coming weekend, according to the city’s website.