Man arrested, taken to jail in handcuffs, for wading in Rockaway Beach
A Queens dad trying to beat the heat at Rockaway Beach was arrested and hauled off in handcuffs – while his family and friends looked on – for wading ankle-deep, into the water.
“It was one of the hottest days of the year, and I wanted to cool off,” said Anthony DiCiervo.
Parks Department officials said DiCiervo disregarded signs barring people from going into the water when no lifeguards are on duty – and ignored explicit orders to get out of the water.
DiCiervo said he couldn’t believe they were giving him grief about strolling in the surf, especially since dozens of other people around him were doing the same thing.
His wife, Regina, said the cops acted like “bullies” and seeing DiCiervo arrested caused their mentally disabled 15-year-old son Christopher to have an anxiety attack.
“It took an hour for my son to calm down,” she said.
A 43-year-old married father of three, DiCiervo said his ordeal began June 8 as the city was being cooked by an unexpected heat wave.
DiCiervo, who lives a block from the water, said he and his family hit the beach seeking relief – like so many other neighborhood residents.
The fact that there were no lifeguards did not surprise anybody because it’s a chronic problem, DiCiervo and several other residents said.
DiCiervo said he dipped his toes in the water – and quickly found himself neck-deep in trouble when two Parks Department employees rolled up and told him to get out of the ocean. He admits what he did next wasn’t exactly wise.
“I just waved them off,” he said. “I didn’t have ID in my pocket – I was wearing a bathing suit and live a block from the beach – so they arrested me.”
DiCiervo said he was given two summonses – one for ignoring the signs and one for ignoring the officers’ command – cuffed and put in the back of a Parks Department truck. He was taken to the local precinct stationhouse and put in a holding cell until his family arrived with his driver’s license.
The Parks Department said they were just enforcing the law.
“As there was no lifeguard on duty, the bay was closed to swimming and wading,” Parks Department spokesman Philip Abramson said. “Officers repeatedly requested for him to get out of the water but he refused to do so.”
In a followup statement, the Parks Department insisted, “We first warn individuals, and on rare occasions issue summonses to ensure public safety.” The department isn’t up to its full complement of about 1,100 lifeguards because high schoolers are still in classes, it said.
DiCiervo said he will fight his summons in court in August, and has photos that show dozens of other beachgoers were also in the water when he was arrested.
“The entire neighborhood is behind us on this one,” his wife said.
Beachgoer Hank Iori said he is on DiCiervo’s side.
“People come to the beach to have a good time,” said Iori, 61, a retired Education Department administrator. “But we’re treated so poorly down here.”
“The Parks Department sends out people on 4-by-4s who yell at us to get off the beach,” said Dennis Barnes, a 50-year-old firefighter and DiCiervo’s neighbor. “This is a beach community and you can’t even go for a dip anymore.”