Riverhead Town Police Officer Rick Anderson on the jetty at the power plant looking west toward the beach where the bodies of the two men lost yesterday washed ashore.
Photo: Peter Blasl

(Updated: 2:05 p.m.) The bodies of the two young men who were swept out into the Long Island Sound by strong currents in Wading River yesterday were found this morning near the Shoreham power plant.

The bodies of Luis Lala, 20, and Juan Loja, 18, both of Brentwood, were recovered from the water by Suffolk County Police working from the beach in Shoreham.

“They came to fish,” said one of three men standing on the shore this morning near Wading River Creek, where the apparent drowning victims had entered the water with a third man.

Police said three men were attempting to cross the creek when the strong currents swept them away from shore. One man managed to cling to a rock about 300 yards off shore and survived. The other two disappeared in the choppy waters. A fourth man, a friend who was with the victims yesterday, had called police to report his friends had been overcome by the current and swept away at about 3:30 p.m.

Rough surf this morning in Wading River Creek, where three men were swept out by currents yesterday. Only one, who managed to cling to a rock abotu 300 yards offshore, survived. Photo: Peter Blasl
Rough surf this morning in Wading River Creek, where three men were swept out by currents yesterday. Only one, who managed to cling to a rock abotu 300 yards offshore, survived. Photo: Peter Blasl

“I don’t know why they were trying to cross,” said the man this morning. He would give only his first name, Jimmy. He said Loja was his cousin, and the Lala was a good friend. Both were from Ecuador and lived in Brentwood, he said.

Jimmy said he and his friends had come to the Wading River Beach early this morning to look for the two men lost yesterday.

“We heard they found the bodies,” he said, gesturing over at the jetty in front of the power plant.

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Three members of a group of friends who came to the beach this morning to search for the missing men. Photo: Peter Blasl

Riverhead Town Police, Wading River Fire Department, Riverhead Fire Department, Rocky Point Fire Department and Ridge Fire Department all responded for the rescue yesterday afternoon. Police and fire department boats were launched at the town boat ramp to search the area, zig-zagging back and forth, looking for the missing men for more than two hours. Two Coast Guard boats assisted.

A Suffolk County Police helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter searched the area from the skies.

A Riverhead Police dive team joined the search in what police termed a recovery effort after the search by marine and aviation units proved fruitless.

The Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak searched the area overnight.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2 :05 p.m. after police confirmed the identities of the victims.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.