🌊 Seaside Heights is cracking down at the beach

🌊 Swimmers and surfers could be ticketed

🌊 Fines for the tickets range from $300 to $1,200

SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Swimmers who go in the water at the beaches in one Ocean County community this weekend risk a ticket if there's a red flag flying or there are no lifeguards on duty.

Hurricane Lee will bring big waves, dangerous rip currents and beach erosion. Wave heights will probably peak Friday afternoon, with top crests in the 10 to 12-foot range, according to New Jersey 101.5 chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

The ocean will stay rough Saturday as Lee continues north towards the Gulf of Maine.

Drownings at the Shore this month

During Labor Day weekend, four people drowned in Belmar, Seaside Park, Beach Haven and Strathmere Beach when hurricanes Franklin and Idalia churned up the Atlantic Ocean. An 81-year-old man nearly drowned off Seaside Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Even with lower temperatures and humidity, the beach will still attract swimmers and surfers. Officials in Seaside Heights have a message: obey the lifeguards or your could get a ticket.

Lifeguard stand Seaside Heights 9/4/23
Lifeguard stand Seaside Heights 9/4/23 (Robert Connor)

Stay out of the water...or else

"We want to make sure that no one goes into our waters," Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz told New Jersey 101.5. "If it's a red flag, you're not going to go in. If they disobey the rules, the public, the lifeguards will tell them, 'Don't go in.' If they disrespect the lifeguards, they'll be issued a summons."

Lifeguards on duty in Seaside Heights will have the final say on whether someone can go into the water.

Seaside Heights Police Chief Tommy Boyd is especially worried about after-hours swimmers getting into trouble.

"If people are going in after hours and there's no lifeguards on, then we will probably we're going to put a police officer on an ATV. We'll probably be issuing tickets if they go in the water after the lifeguard leaves," Boyd said.

Who will issue the summonses?

Lifeguards will not be carrying ticket books. Instead, they will call police to issue a ticket with a fine ranging anywhere between $300 and $1,250. Boyd said it's not another way to make money and only one or two tickets have been written this year.

"It's just a little bit of a deterrent because we're trying to save people's life. People don't understand we're not doing it to hurt anybody. We're trying to save people," he said.

Vaz knows there will be critics.

"I'd rather get criticized for issuing summons than have some parent come to me or a family member and say, 'My child or husband lost their lives.' I'd rather have that," Vaz said. "Better than being proactive than to be sorry later."

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