Community mourns loss of girl who drowned

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BELMAR -

A Jersey Shore community is in mourning after a 13-year-old girl drowned in the ocean in Belmar.

Dozens of people attended a prayer service Friday afternoon for the girl, as well as her 12-year-old cousin who is on life-support. The two girls attended Belmar Elementary School.

The girls were swimming near the Ninth Avenue beach Thursday around 6 p.m. when they were pulled under by what officials say was a rip current. There were no lifeguards on duty at the time.

Several who attended the service were people who were at the beach when the drowning happened and rushed to help the girls.

“I was speaking to her. She didn’t respond. I just said, ‘Come on baby girl, come on baby girl,” one of the good Samaritans said.

Another tells News 12 New Jersey that he tried to perform CPR on the girl, identified by friends as Mitzy Hernandez.

Emma Kowailcyc says that her brother was a classmate of Hernandez.

"Last night he was asking me questions and I didn't know how to respond because I didn't want to make him upset,” Kowailcyc says.

Lifeguards were not scheduled to start full time at the  beach until Monday, but Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty says that borough officials are considering having them start earlier in the wake of the tragedy.

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