The teenaged daughter of East Hampton Town Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley is currently in intensive care after an accident in the ocean surf in Amagansett on Wednesday afternoon, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson confirmed on Thursday.
Wilkinson said that Doris Quigley, a 17-year-old town lifeguard, may have hit a sandbar at and broke her neck. She was flown by helicopter to the hospital.
She underwent a three-hour surgery on Wednesday evening, Wilkinson said.
"It's just tragic. Hopefully, the fracture in the back will not lead to other complications," he said, as he drove to Stony Brook University Medical Center to be with the Quigley family.
Doris was taking a dip with friends before going off duty, according to John Ryan Jr., the chief lifeguard, who said two friends and a fellow lifeguard pulled her out of the surf. "There's a lot of unknown really," he said of what happened when she dove in.
He rushed down there after the accident was reported. "All I kept thinking was what the hell is that lifeguard doing laying down on the backboard," he said. Then reality sunk in. He said in his 30 years as a lifeguard, he can't remember a lifeguard getting this badly hurt.
Ryan met with the lifeguards, many of whom are the same age and are friends with Doris, to help them deal with the gravity of what happened, he said. After a rescue call, he said, lifeguards usually are able to put the incident behind them because there's no personal connection to the victim. "That didn't happen yesterday, when you close that door, you still can't breathe," he said.
Wilkinson attended the meeting. "The reality is that everyone of us has dove into the ocean and scraped our faces or our chest on a sandbar at one time or another. Thank God there were doctors on the beaches. Thank God the lifeguards were there. Thank God she herself is a lifeguard," he said. "Thank God she's young, she's strong."
Her mother, an attorney who is serving her third year in a four year term as a councilwoman, and father are at the hospital, surrounded by their family, Wilkinson said.
Ryan asked that the community pray for Quigley and keep her in their thoughts.
Please join East Hampton Patch in offering Doris Quigley well-wishes for a speedy recovery.
A correction was made to the article. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson reported to Patch later on Thursday afternoon that the surgery had actually been three hours, as opposed to two.