Last Friday, as Sag Harbor Fire Department Chief Pete Garypie drove down Noyac Road he noticed about 50 swimmers cooling off in Trout Pond.
“I thought to myself, it is just a matter of time before we are going to get a call,” said Chief Garypie.
The next day, at 5:11 p.m. the Sag Harbor Fire Department, its dive team, the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps. and the Southampton
Bay Constable were directed to Trout Pond by Southampton Town Police responding to reports of a possible drowning.
According to Chief Garypie, he quickly requested the presence of the East Hampton and North Sea dive teams in an effort to have all hands
on deck for what he hoped would be a rescue, but ultimately was a recovery.
According to Southampton Town Police, Tyreef Benston, 26, of Queens drowned at Trout Pond Saturday evening. Benston’s body was ultimately
located by the Sag Harbor Fire Department Dive Team, said Chief Garypie.
Trout Pond, located on Noyac Road, is a popular swimming spot, although a handful of people have drowned there in the last decade. There are no lifeguards stationed at Trout Pond and the area is heavily signed with warnings to that affect.
When Chief Garypie and the department responded to the scene he said there were about 15 people at Trout Pond, not all of them part of the
group swimming with Benston. Several people at the scene had attempted rescue Benston, said Chief Garypie. According to Chief Garypie it was through information provided by one female that led the dive team to Benston’s body, which was submerged in 11 feet of water. He was discovered around 6:07 p.m. and Chief Garypie said there were conflicting reports about how long Benston had struggled in the water before police were called.
Chief Garypie can recall three people drowning at Trout Pond since 2007 and said the combination of people unaccustomed to fresh water
swimming and the conditions of Trout Pond make it a dangerous place to cool off, particularly for those who are not strong swimmers.
“People do not realize fresh water is not as easy to swim in as salt water,” said Chief Garypie. “It is an unprotected pond and the depth
goes from very shallow to very deep rapidly off the side. It is also has a soft, muddy, weedy bottom and it is very hard to get good
footing even when you can reach the bottom.”
“In my opinion, no one should be swimming there, experienced or not,” continued Chief Garypie.
Photography by Michael Heller