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A father drowned at the Jersey Shore while attempting to save his daughter, police say

By Nic Anderson and Liam Reilly, CNN

(CNN) — A New York firefighter drowned while attempting to save his teenage daughter who had been swept away in rough surf on the Jersey Shore on Friday, authorities said.

First responders were able to rescue the girl and her father was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead, according to first responders. He was identified as New York Fire Department firefighter Mark Batista, according to the department.

“We are heartbroken to learn about the death of Firefighter Mark Batista, who died Friday while swimming at the Jersey Shore,” New York Fire Department spokesperson Amanda Farinacci Gonzalez said in a statement.

“Firefighter Batista was a dedicated public servant who spent fifteen years serving in the FDNY, as both an EMT and a firefighter. We join his family in mourning his tragic passing.”

At around 8:30 a.m. Friday, rescuers from the Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders Team responded to reports that two swimmers were in distress at the Sylvania Avenue Beach in Avon-by-the-Sea, according to a Facebook post by the interlocal organization. Rescuers were able to quickly find and rescue the teenager in the rough waters but were unable to locate the man, the post said.

The rescue team launched an hourlong search effort involving rescue swimmers, divers, jet skis boats, and a drone to find the father, according to the Facebook post. At around 10 am, a US Coast Guard helicopter identified a “possible location” for the father and rescue swimmers located him and removed him from the water.

First responders attempted to administer “lifesaving efforts” to the 39-year-old Teaneck man, who was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the Avon-by-the-Sea Police Department.

In a Friday Facebook post, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office urged caution in the water.

“In the wake of this morning’s unfortunate incident in Avon where a man drowned while trying to rescue his daughter after she was caught in rough surf, we once again caution all to please NOT go in the water when there are no lifeguards on duty,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

The official cause of death has not yet been released. The Avon-by-the-Sea Police Department is investigating the incident.

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CNN’s Zoe Sottile and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.

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