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NYPD Officer Saves Woman From Drowning in Rockaway

By Katie Honan | June 13, 2017 8:34am | Updated on June 13, 2017 4:29pm
 Officer William Lauria on the Rockaway boardwalk a day after rescuing a woman in the Atlantic Ocean.
Officer William Lauria on the Rockaway boardwalk a day after rescuing a woman in the Atlantic Ocean.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ROCKAWAY BEACH — A former lifeguard turned police officer rescued a woman who nearly drowned in the ocean Monday evening, according to the NYPD. 

The 25-year-old Staten Island woman went into the ocean at Beach 94th Street at around 7:30 p.m. — more than an hour after lifeguards went off duty — when she began to struggle in the choppy waters, police said. 

A good Samaritan jumped in to try to help her, but then he also was overcome by the ocean. 

That's when NYPD Officer William Lauria, 23, whose full time precinct is the 105th but is assigned a summer detail at the 100th Precinct, came to the rescue.

A former lifeguard, he spent summers working at a pool in Hempstead, Long Island — and put his training to use.

The rescue on Monday evening. (DNAinfo/Agustina Bartha-Dier)

He removed his uniform and jumped into the ocean in his shorts, and jumped into the ocean to help the woman in distress, police said.

He used "verbal judo" to calm her down, he said.

"I just grabbed her arm and coached her through," he said. "I had her help me, a little assistance from her, kicking her legs."

Lauria also coordinated with a surfer in the ocean to help the man who jumped in after her, police said.

Both returned safely to shore after a massive rescue response that included helicopters and police boats. 

The woman was treated at a nearby hospital for minor injuries.

Lauria returned to the site of his rescue on Tuesday, thankful to the surfer who helped him save the other man. 

It's his first summer detail with a year on the half with the NYPD, and said Monday was his best day on the force “by far.”

“This is extremely rewarding,” he said. “It’s why we take the job, it’s all about helping the community out.”