Photographer saves 11-year-old girl from drowning

An 11-year-old girl nearly drowned in the surf at Coney Island Saturday afternoon — before an onlooker and lifeguards came to her rescue, officials and witnesses said.

The victim disappeared under shallow water around 1:30 p.m., cops said.

William O’Connor, 38, a photographer who was with his 4-year-old son and friends, said, “There was a lady screaming.

“The lifeguards all jumped in. A guy on the beach screamed for all of us to go into the water.

“I dove right in and literally swam into her,” he said. “I picked her up and handed her to a lifeguard. I can’t believe I literally dove into the water and dove into her. I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time.’

O’Connor’s friend, John Hlis, 29, a chef, said of the child, “her eyes were rolled back in her head and there was sand in her mouth. I just prayed for the best.’’

Her mother was “screaming and just started praying and praying,” witness Angela Larkin said.

Another witness, Karen Ferraro, said, “When [the lifeguards] got her, they gave her CPR on the beach and finally the water came out when they put her on her side. Everybody on the beach clapped. Thank God she was okay. ‘’

The child was rushed to Coney Island Hospital where doctors said she didn’t suffer life threatening injuries.


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