2 teens vanish in waters off NYC park, distraught parents struggling to sleep: ‘My God, let them come back’ - Hindustan Times
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2 teens vanish in waters off NYC park, distraught parents struggling to sleep: ‘My God, let them come back’

BySumanti Sen
Jun 23, 2024 10:46 AM IST

Elyjha Chandler, 16, and his friend Christian, 17, disappeared in the waters off Jacob Riis Park in New York City.

A teenage boy and his friend disappeared in the waters off Jacob Riis Park in New York City on Friday, June 21. Since Friday night, Elyjha Chandler and another teen have been missing, with scuba divers searching the sea.

2 teens vanish in waters off NYC park (Pixabay - representational image)
2 teens vanish in waters off NYC park (Pixabay - representational image)

The parents of Chandler, 16, kept vigil at the beach on Saturday, June 22. It has been reported that the two teens were swept under while they were standing in knee-high water.

“He wasn’t far out in the water… One of the boys told me when the water hit them, it was like a demon coming at them,” said Chandler’s father, Urshell Chandler. He added that his son could not swim, and had whimsically planned to come to the beach instead of going to practise basketball.

‘I’m going to keep praying’

New York Post described how Chandler’s mother, Aminatu Noah, sat near the water’s edge, tears rolling down her face as her legs shook. “Why? Why? Why?” Noah cried. “I just want to stay here.”

“I just want them to come back. I want them to walk up to us,” she added. “My only son. My God, let them come back. … God is control. I’m going to keep praying.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed that Chandler and his friend, Christian, 17, went in for a dip around 6:35 pm. However, they never returned.

Generally, lifeguards are stationed at the state park from 10 am to 6 pm in the summer. Chandler’s family claimed that the lifeguards left early.

Urshell said he learned that a good Samaritan tried to help Chandler and Christian, as well as two other teens, who went into the water. “A man pulled him out. He was looking at Elijah. His eyes were opened wide. Elijah went up and down three times and then they didn’t see him again,” he said.

“I was hoping he’ll come out of the water and say, ‘I’m here’,” the father added. “It’s very hard. I cried. I could not sleep last night.”

‘He’s the perfect little brother’

Chandler’s sister, Shawanda Chandler, said her brother stayed with his friends even though he had enough credits to graduate and head to college this summer. “He’s the perfect little brother,” she said, adding that he was “always smiling.”

Shawanda tearfully said that her brother “was scared of the water.” “…It feels unfair to be alive. My brother was gonna do so much stuff,” she cried.

Urshell said his son was very fond of basketball and school. “His score was one of the highest in his class,” he said. “He got so much awards for academic achievements — all the time.”

Meanwhile, late Saturday, the Coast Guard announced that the search for the teens had been called off. “The decision to suspend a search is always difficult and weighs heavily on all involved,” said Capt. Jonathan Andrechik, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York in a press release. “Our crews, along with our partner agencies, have conducted an exhaustive search, and our thoughts remain with the families during this difficult time.”

According to the Coast Guard, the crews made sure to search over 600 square miles from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to Long Beach, New York.

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