Long Island Man Drowns After Saving Daughter, Niece In Mattituck Inlet

July 05, 2018 - 1:32 pm

SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- The 4th of July took a tragic turn when a Long Island man drowned after rescuing his daughter and niece from the water in Mattituck Inlet.

Authorities said 41-year-old Leonel Ortiz Lemus, of Central Islip, went into the inlet to save the girls who needed help after they found themselves in deep water.

"They had not gone under, they were just in too deep over their head," Southold Police Lt. James Ginas said. "He was able to pull them and push them to shore but in doing so he slipped off the edge of the incline and went into deep water."

"Unfortunately when your children are involved you do what's necessary to save them," Ginas added.

The victim's cousin said Lemus could not swim and when he fell into the water he hit his head on a rock.

"He jumped in to save them, he doesn't know how to swim, but he tried his best. He was a good guy," said Lemus's cousin. "It's really sad, really unfortunate."

Lemus' wife also went into the water to help her husband but needed to be rescued by first responders because she also could not swim.

"When his wife saw that he didn't come out she went in but unfortunately she tried her best but she also couldn't swim," Lemus' cousin said.