The New Jersey Tourism Industry Association stands with the New Jersey’s Beach Patrol community in mourning the untimely passing of 16-year-old Cape May Beach Patrol rookie lifeguard Norman V. Inferrera III, who lost his life on Aug. 19 while performing a routine job-related exercise.
On Aug. 27, lifeguards from 13 New Jersey beach towns traveled to Cape May to pay their final respects to the fallen guard. The guards then watched over the beaches in the National Historic Resort while members of the Cape May Beach Patrol attended Inferrera’s memorial service.
Cape May’s City Council approved a resolution authorizing a shared service agreement between the city and participating units for beach patrol aid and assistance.
The Cape May Beach Patrol reached out to communities within the Atlantic Cape Joint Insurance Fund (JIF) to staff the beaches while their lifeguards attended the memorial service in Pennsylvania, and the response was overwhelming.
Participating beach patrols included Brigantine, Ventnor, Margate, Longport, Ocean City, Upper Township, Sea Isle City, Avalon, North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Diamond Beach, and Cape May Point.
“On behalf of tourism partners around the state, we send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave souls,” said Adam Perle, president of the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association (NJTIA) “We are grateful for their service and continue to mourn lives lost too young. Our membership across the state stands together in this time of tragedy and crisis. We will always support those who serve on behalf of others.”
Inferrera, a high school student from Phoenixville, Pa., was assisting in keeping swimmers close to shore, when his lifeguard patrol boat overturned in rough surf off the Cape May Reading Avenue Beach, officials said. He was knocked unconscious when he hit his head on the boat, his family said.
He was resuscitated twice by fellow lifeguards and taken to a local hospital before being airlifted to Cooper University Medical Center in Camden, where he was in a coma with brain damage and multiple broken bones.
He died the next night. Known as “Champ” to his friends, his summer job as lifeguard for the Cape May Beach Patrol, was a “life-long dream,” according to his obituary.
During the summer, Inferrera lived in North Wildwood and was set to return to Pennsylvania to start his junior year of high school at the end of the summer. Cape May City Council has introduced an ordinance to rename Reading Avenue beach after the fallen lifeguard.
In another tragedy, our hearts go out to the family of 19-year-old Keith Pinto of Toms River, NJ who was killed by a lightning strike while on duty protecting swimmers on the South Seaside Park, NJ beach on Aug. 30. Keith wanted to become a marine one day. With that same heart to serve, he died protecting his beach community.