Beach lifeguard disciplined for using phone on duty
An Asbury Park beach lifeguard faced disciplinary action after he was photographed using his phone while on duty.
A beach-going mother who wished to remain anonymous tells News 12 New Jersey that she became frustrated Saturday after seeing the lifeguard using his phone and not watching over the swimmers.
“At one point I stood in front of the stand with my phone, took a picture and he never even looked up, which means he wasn't looking at anyone in the water or anything else that was going on around him,” she says.
The mother showed the picture to beach safety supervisor Jon Bongiovanni. He says that his guards are instructed to never use their phones while on the lifeguard stand, but admits that as technology advances, so do the distractions.
"Some of the people are addicted to their cellphones and it's a tough habit to break,” Bongiovanni says. “We try to be diligent about it and naturally some of the younger kids don't realize the consequences of that and we have to take action against those who violate those rules."
Disciplinary action was taken against the guard caught using his phone. Bongiovanni credits his staff to preventing any drownings going back to 2012.
“You have to develop a keen eye for watching things, certain situations,” he says. “Especially when that surge comes up on the beach and that undertow knocks them back down in a matter of seconds."
The mother says that she is thankful for Asbury Park's staff and for their concern.
“[Bongiovanni] seemed very concerned and he took it seriously and I appreciate it,” she says. “That's what we want. I don't want to see someone say ‘kids will be kids.’ People's lives are at stake."
Bongiovanni says any guard caught using their phone on the stand in a non-emergency will be suspended and possibly fired. But he says that he also wants to remind parents to always keep a close eye on their children.
There have been at least seven drownings this summer involving people swimming when lifeguards were not on duty.