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Jun 9, 2010 9:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Brooklyn man drowns, friend still missing at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton

Jun 9, 2010 9:57 AM

A Brooklyn man drowned Sunday at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton, and a second man is still missing but is likely dead, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

Deng Zheng, 26, and his friend, Xiangyong Chen, 31, also of Brooklyn, were swimming approximately 50 yards from shore in an unsupervised area of Cupsogue Beach late that morning when a large wave apparently swamped them, police said. Authorities said the men started to swim to shore, but were not seen after the wave broke.

Mr. Zheng’s body was recovered from the water by two lifeguards who initiated CPR, police said. He was transported by Flanders-Northampton Volunteer Ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, where he was pronounced dead at 12:17 p.m.

As of Tuesday evening, Mr. Chen had not yet been found, and he is presumed to be dead, according to Sergeant Robert Doyle of the Suffolk County Police Department, who responded to the scene. He said the two men were caught in rough waters, off a part of the beach that was at least a half mile away from the nearest lifeguard stand, where swimming is prohibited.

“The other factor here is that, quite obviously, these two individuals are very inexperienced swimmers, have very limited swimming experience, and, unfortunately, were in waters that they really didn’t have capabilities for,” Sgt. Doyle said.

Authorities will continue combing nearby beaches until Mr. Chen is found, according to Chief Deputy Commissioner Joseph Montuori of the Suffolk County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We will be patrolling the beach and flats, constantly looking,” Mr. Montuori said.

He said that it was still too early to officially declare Mr. Chen dead. “You don’t presume a person passed away until you find a body,” he said.

Mr. Montuori added that, if Mr. Chen is dead, it could take weeks for his body to wash ashore. “Sometimes it can be the next day, sometimes it could be a week, sometimes it could be a month,” he said.

Two friends of Mr. Zheng and Mr. Chen, who were closer to the shore at the time of the incident, saw them try to swim to shore when the large wave rolled in, police said. Two Suffolk County Parks lifeguards were on a daily workout run when they saw Mr. Zheng’s and Mr. Chen’s friends looking for them at about 10:50 a.m., authorities said. The lifeguards notified police and then began their search, police said.

Members of the Suffolk County Parks Police, Aviation Unit and Marine Bureau, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and West Hampton Dunes Constables participated in the initial search for Mr. Chen, police said. The U.S. Coast Guard station in East Moriches sent a search boat out at 11 a.m. Sunday, and called it back to port at 1:55 p.m., according to Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Michael Burke.

“We are not actively searching right now,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

He declined to say whether or not Mr. Chen was likely to still be alive. “I’m not going to speculate on that,” he said.

Officials said that conditions at Cupsogue Beach were dangerous for swimmers on Sunday morning. The wind was blowing from the west at about 20 knots, within the threshold for a small craft advisory, according to Coast Guard Lieutenant Junior Grade Erin Dixon. Riptides were also present offshore that day, Sgt. Doyle said.

“It was a rough surf,” Mr. Montuori added.

The Suffolk County Police Department Homicide Squad is currently investigating Mr. Zheng’s death, according to Jason Cole, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Police Department. The death is not considered suspicious, authorities said.

The incident comes early in the Long Island beach season. Last year, two people drowned at beaches in Suffolk County, according to Grace Kelly-McGovern, a spokeswoman for the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. One occurred in Cherry Grove on Fire Island and the other at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai, she said.

Staff members at Cupsogue Beach referred all questions about the incident to Suffolk County this week.

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The homicide squad is not dispatched to the East End unless a death is thought to be suspicious or can not be explained by normal means (possible homicide, suicide with weapons etc ) Generally accidents and other non suspicious deaths are handled by local detectives with the Suffolk Medical examiners office taking the lead role.
By johnnytax (29), new york on Jun 6, 10 5:48 PM
I guess reading comprehension wasn't big in the PS's in the city.

Cupsogue Beach County Park= SCPD jurisdiction
By politcal pawn (121), Flanders on Jun 6, 10 8:09 PM
Let's not get carried away Johnny. The drownings occurred at a County Beach.
By DC (11), Hampton Bays on Jun 6, 10 8:04 PM
i think johnny is right to be suspicious- i'll bet they were chineese terrorists that came ashore from a submarine to blow up the fireworks depot at gabreski-and drowned trying to swim back to the sub!!! lighten up johnny
By CaptainSig (716), southampton on Jun 6, 10 8:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 6, 10 8:41 PM
Just an observation...but isn't is strange that 90% of the drownings are not native LI's?
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 6, 10 8:33 PM
Yeah, you really have to watch out for those Brooklynites. Wait a second, isn't Brooklyn on Long Island?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jun 7, 10 1:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
We have the Kayaker (chinese) and 2 Spanish from Brooklyn.

I had no intention of being insensitive. .. Maybe the warnings are not strong enough.

By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 7, 10 9:36 PM
I am deeply sorry for the loss of these men's lives.
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 7, 10 9:38 PM
Maybe they don't take our warnings/laws seriously...
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 6, 10 8:34 PM
Got to Cupsogue today around 11:00 am Police, ambulances and alot of commotion! Husband & I with the kids... WHAT A GREAT LESSON... you have to respect nature! Daughter who loves the water and has no fear... was extremely disturbed by this!

PS like the submarine story
By M Sufrin (1), Wading River on Jun 6, 10 10:10 PM
My nephew (4 YRS) was almost swept out by a current last year. He was in 1 ft water! My mom (the grandmother) was holding his hand! It was during a storm....but it is a good lesson. The life guard swooped my nephew up and saved him! We thought we had control of him...
He said to me later "aunt kelly...its watching you.." fear is good...
By kelly (75), hampton bays on Jun 6, 10 10:37 PM
Potential Rip Current risks were posted by the weather service......
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jun 7, 10 7:11 AM
The signs were posted NO SWIMMING dagerous rip currents. Yet they went swimming any way. Guess they thought the warning didn't apply to them. The ocean can be a lot of fun but, you have to respect it.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Jun 7, 10 7:56 AM
3 members liked this comment
Just heard they didn't speak English, so they couldn't read the warning. Hope they didn't drive here from Brooklyn.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Jun 7, 10 8:12 AM
If your "drive here" line is meant to be funny, it is not. A man died.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 8:36 AM
I think two men died, unless one is chilling in Atlantis.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 13, 10 8:04 AM
My Pool is still freezing...wasnt that water awfully cold???? So sad...going out for a fun afternoon and never coming back...yesterday was also rough ...very windy.....
By Quogonian (14), Quogue on Jun 7, 10 8:54 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Spelling Cop (22), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 5:53 AM
I was there with my son,we saw the lifegaurds working on the one guy so sad. my heart goes out not just to there families,but... to the lifegaurd who worked so hard to try and save this guys life! he was so upset, you did good! my little one said this to me... "mom i never prayed so hard and so long when i was watching him doing cpr."
By bwinter (2), manorville on Jun 7, 10 10:30 AM
nothing funny here. One man died for sure and a second probably did. My sympathies all around, and give credit to the lifeguard who clearly tried his best.
By diogenes (57), westhampton on Jun 7, 10 12:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Very sad and if they didn't read or speak english even more so.
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jun 7, 10 12:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
broke my heart to see that life gaurd working so hard he wouldnt stop. he was in tears, he wouldnt stop, even when the police and ambulance were there. i told my son, Tanner, you prayed for strangers, trust me all of heaven heard you...my heart breaks for all involved...
By bwinter (2), manorville on Jun 7, 10 12:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By MJP (13), On Quiogue on Jun 11, 10 3:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
A: Respect your Mother. This planet has the power to give you life, as well as take it away.

In the days of Rome, there was what was called the right of "pater familias". In some extreme cases, albeit rarely, a father had the right to kill a family member. It (that extreme right) however, was done away with by law. Just think of it as a bit of "role reversal" when it comes to the planet.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 17, 10 1:15 PM