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Yitzchak Rosenberg, owner of Certified Lumber in Williamsburg and owner and developer of several properties in Williamsburg, was pronounced dead on the scene after a riptide unexpectedly swept the group out into the ocean.
The second man was identified as Chaim Parnes, a diamond dealer who was robbed of $35,000 worth of merchandise, pistol whipped and had his tires slashed on a Thanksgiving 2015 visit to North Miami, according to Miami’s Local 10 News. At the time, Parnes said he was grateful to have survived the encounter.
“If (you) take away life, (it) doesn’t come back,” Parnes said. “So I’m thankful for God. Today’s Thanksgiving. I’m giving up big time for God that I’m alive.”
The two were among a group of five visitors from Kiryas Joel and Brooklyn who were at Haulover Beach on 140th and Collins Avenue. There were no lifeguards present in the area where the men were swimming, with signs posted warning beachgoers to swim only in guarded areas and warning of the dangers of rip currents, according to Erika Benitez, public information officer for Miami Dade Fire and Rescue.
“There is a lifeguard tower there but there was no lifeguard on duty,” Benitez told VIN News. “We can only man so many towers and the no swimming signs were posted.”
Benitez said that a call came in at approximately 11:15 AM, advising of as many as four people possibly in the water. By the time lifeguards reached the area, Aron Wurzberger and Yitzchok Englander, both of Kiryas Joel, had already managed to get out of the water. A fifth member of the group also emerged from the water unharmed.
Officer George Waisman of the Bal Harbour police was on his way home from a court appearance when he heard the call for help. Finding himself near the scene, Waisman responded to the call, according to Captain Miguel Delarosa, public information officer for the Bal Harbour Police Department.
“Once he arrived at the sand there were two victims already on the shore and he was advised of a third victim still in the water,” said Delarosa.
Waisman and lifeguard Marcelo Lopez boarded a jet ski and went out into the water.
“Officer Waisman assisted the lifeguard in placing the victim on the platform on the jet ski,” said Delarosa. “Once the victim was on the platform they went ahead and transported the victim to the shore where Miami Dade Fire Rescue administered first aid.”
Emergency personnel performed CPR on both Rosenberg and Parnes who were pronounced dead at Aventura Hospital A third member of the group was transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center according to Miami Dade police.
Benitez said that today’s winds likely exacerbated the tricky conditions that are common in the area.
“Haulover is known to have strong currents,” said Benitez. “We do have a lot of near drownings in the Haulover inlet area, which is about a quarter of a mile away.”
The fact that the area was deserted today is what likely appealed to the group in the first place, but Benitez warned that swimming without supervision in the area is highly discouraged.
“We emphasize the importance of swimming only at guarded areas of the beach where lifeguards are present,” said Benitez.
Activists in Miami are working with the medical examiner’s office to release the bodies of the two men as soon as possible so that they can be flown home for burial.