- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

OCEAN CITY (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman died yesterday after injuring herself critically trying to pull her 12-year-old son from the surf, Ocean City police said.

Joyce Severa, 45, of United, Pa., was taken by helicopter to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md., after the accident Monday, and she remained in intensive care Tuesday night, said Ocean City Police Officer Barry Neeb.

She died early yesterday, according to Officer Neeb and hospital spokeswoman Toni Keiser.

According to Officer Neeb, Mrs. Severa was with friends on the beach near 103rd Street about 9 a.m. Monday when she saw one of her two sons fall off a boogie board in the surf. She swam out to help him, Officer Neeb said.

A witness told police that a bystander helped Mrs. Severa’s son to the shore and turned around to see Mrs. Severa floating in the shallow surf.

Two people tried to perform CPR on Mrs. Severa, but they couldn’t revive her, Officer Neeb said.

According to Capt. Butch Arbin of Ocean City Beach Patrol, the accident occurred near a condominium building where the woman and her sons were staying. Lifeguards do not go on duty until 10 a.m., Capt. Arbin said.

Capt. Arbin gave a more detailed account of the accident, saying the 12-year-old was caught in a riptide and was being pulled away from the beach.

He said the boy’s 10-year-old brother followed his mother into the water. The younger boy also became distressed, Capt. Arbin said, and both boys clung to her.

A surfer paddled over and helped the boys hold onto his board, Capt. Arbin said, while other passers-by rescued the woman. He said the boys were not hurt.

Ocean City police refused Tuesday to release any information about the accident, creating confusion after Capt. Arbin reported that the woman, who he said was 44 years old, died 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said the department did not respond to media inquires Tuesday about the accident because neither of its public information officers was working.

Capt. Arbin did not respond yesterday to calls seeking comment.

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