A 16-year-old lifeguard in Cape May, died after he was injured while on duty.
Norman V. Inferrera III, 16, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, died from injuries sustained after he was knocked unconscious when the patrol boat he was rowing in the ocean got broadsided by a wave and flipped over.
Inferrera had been rowing the lifeguard boat off off Reading Avenue Beach in Cape May.
Cape May City Manager Michael Voll confirmed that the teenage lifeguard died in a statement issued Saturday morning.
“This summer champ was involved in many rescues including a four-year-old child,” said Inferrera’s aunt, Kathleen Price. “Norman was loved by all and an all-around awesome kid. He wanted to be a lifeguard to help save others and that is what he spent the summer doing.”
“While conducting a routine lifeguard patrol to keep people from getting into the rough surf, Norman’s lifeguard boat capsized. He hit his head on the boat and was unconscious. He had to be resuscitated twice and airlifted to Cooper [University Hospital] trauma unit,” said Price.
“The positive impact he has had on our beach patrol is evident based on the large outpouring of love and support from his fellow guards and the Cape May community,” Voll said.
Lifeguards responded immediately to help him, Voll said.
Inferrera was resuscitated twice and airlifted to Cooper University Hospital.
Price announced her nephew’s death on that page Saturday morning, saying: “The Lord called my beautiful nephew Norman home last night.”
Cape May has never before lost a lifeguard to injuries sustained on duty.
“Even at such a young age, Norman was loved by his fellow Lifeguards,” said Cape May Mayor Zachary Mullock. “No words can express the sadness suffered by all of our Beach Patrol family. Norman chose to protect others. He did so professionally and worked hard at it. That is an extraordinary attribute for anyone, especially at 16 years old.”
Cape May Beach Patrol Chief Harry Back called Inferrera “a beloved member of our Beach Patrol family,” recalling “a permanent smile” on the young man’s face.
“As we collectively grieve the passing of this bright light from our world, far too soon, we remind and encourage those needing an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on to reach out to their support system and seek counseling,” Voll said, adding that grief counselors have been provided to all beach patrol staff.
Lifeguards from other towns helped provide coverage as Cape May’s grieved. The town has about 70 lifeguards, down to about 40 currently active as some have left to return to school, Voll said.
Inferrera had just been hired this season after passing a “rigorous” test, the city manager said.