Norman V. Inferrera III died Friday after his boat capsized and he was knocked unconscious while working off the coast of Cape May's Reading Avenue Beach

16-year-old Cape May lifeguard Norman Inferrera dies from injuries suffered in on-duty boating accident
Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

A 16-year-old lifeguard has died after his boat capsized while on the job in Cape May, New Jersey.

Norman V. Inferrera III, who was working as a lifeguard at Reading Avenue Beach, flipped while rowing a lifeguard boat in the ocean around 11:30 a.m. local time on Thursday. As the boat was capsized by a wave, Inferrera was knocked unconscious, according to a press release sent out by the city Saturday morning.  

After being transported to the Cape Regional Medical Center and airlifted to Cooper University Hospital trauma center, Inferrera died of his injuries Friday night. 

"The Lord called my beautiful nephew Norman home last night," Inferrera's aunt, Kathleen Price, wrote in a GoFundMe update Saturday. "The family is overwhelmed with sorrow. The bright light in this tragedy is the support and prayers that have been pouring in. We send love and blessings to each and every one of you." 

In the release sent out by the city of Cape May Saturday, Mayor Zachary Mullock remembered Inferrera as being "loved by his fellow Lifeguards."

"No words can express the sadness suffered by all of our Beach Patrol family. Norman chose to protect others. He did so professionally and worked hard at it," he said. "That is an extraordinary attribute for anyone, especially at 16 years old. The Cape May community cares so deeply for those who protect us. I know this entire community is going to do anything it can for Norman's family and friends." 

Cape May Beach Patrol Chief Harry Back described the late teen as a "beloved member of our Beach Patrol family," in the release, adding, "Norman had a permanent smile on his face and was living out his dream to be a lifeguard."   

Inferrera was a first-year lifeguard who had been "involved in many rescues" this summer, including that of a four-year-old child, according to his GoFundMe. The fundraiser had raised $92,000 as of Saturday afternoon, far surpassing its $15,000 goal.

City Manager Mike Voll said that Inferrera was pulled from the water and onto the beach immediately after his accident where fellow lifeguards performed CPR while waiting for the ambulance, per The Press of Atlantic City. 

The teen had been alone during his accident and had taken the boat out as part of his routine duties when he was caught up in rough water as Tropical Storm Fred passed and Tropical Storm Henri moved in. 

Cape May and Back have provided grief counselors for all Beach Patrol staff and the city urged "those needing an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on, to reach out to their support system and seek counseling," in the release.