David Luccioni, 17, died after jumping into a restricted area of the Bronx River to save drowning teen Crystal Reyes. The popular swimming hole is legally off-limits to swimmers but there is no security presents to enforce the safety rules. Signs, and a metal gate installed a few years ago do little to prevent the access to the site. A lack of uniform parks department enforcement presents ensures that people wanting to swim have unfettered access to the site. New York City ranks dead last in the provision of public swimming pools for a high density city.
David Luccioni, 17, and Crystal Reyes, 15, both of the Bronx, drowned when she was pulled under the deceptively calm water of the Bronx River at River Park and he tried to rescue her, fire officials and family said.
"Mi niña! Mi niña!" Crystal's mother screamed before collapsing at St. Barnabas Hospital after learning that her daughter, who had run away from home on Friday, was dead.
Friends said Crystal did not know how to swim.
The tragedy unfolded as the city baked on the third straight day of 90-plus degree heat, prompting the teenagers go for a dip in the forbidden waterway just steps from the Bronx Zoo's Asia Gate.
"What we did, you may call it dumb. Some may call it normal, but what happened was a big accident. Everything just went out of control," said Alex Merly, 18, of the Bronx, among the friends who went swimming and witnessed the tragedy.
FDNY Battalion Chief Pat Murphy said both victims were wearing shorts and T-shirts and were found in an area of the river 10 to 15 feet deep. He said David was wearing construction boots when firefighters fished him out.
The youngsters were swimming with a group of friends in an area near a rocky river dam that is accessible only by jumping a wrought-iron fence marked by city Parks Department signs reading, "Danger No Swimming."
Witnesses said there were at least 20 people, including children as young as 5, swimming in the restricted area near E. 180th St. and Boston Road when the two teens went missing. Friends of the victims said David, who was at the river with his twin brother, Matthew, dived in to rescue Crystal, who went under after losing her footing on the slippery rocks.