UPDATE: Ocean City Police Capt. Steven Ang says the family of Corinthian Hammond has now taken custoy of the body through a private funeral home.
The family of the Philadelphia teen who drowned in the surf off the Ocean City beach on June 29 is trying to raise money to bring his body home for burial.
Friends of 14-year-old Corinthian “Corey” Hammond have set up the Corinthian Hammond Memorial Account at Bank of America.
Nicole Nastacie of Bank of America said Monday morning that anyone wishing to donate can do so at any Bank of America branch by specifying the fund entitled "In Loving Memory of Corinthian Hammond." In addition, the staff of Grover Washington Jr. Middle School has set up a fund to help the families of Hammond and another student who passed away recently, of cancer. The link for that fund is here.
“They want to bring him back and bury him,” says Chrissy Jaselskis, a South Carolina woman who befriended Hammond’s bereaved mother, Tasha Hammond, as she sat vigil on the beach waiting for the recovery of her son’s remains.
In Ocean City, meanwhile, the beach patrol has expanded evening hours on the busy 8th, 9th and 12th street beaches to 8 p.m., seven days a week through Labor Day, and Capt. Steven Ang said the city will look at making "more obvious signage" on the busy beaches.
Initial 911 calls sent police and rescue squads to the 14th street beach instead of the Pier, Ang said. He said the beach patrol was on the scene within five or six minutes of the first call.
"We're looking into the confusion with teh call in about where they were," Ang said. Channel 10 first reported the 911 confusion on the location of the people in the water needing help.
The boy’s body was found by fishermen in Longport, north of Ocean City, on July 3. He drowned swimming after lifeguard hours near the 9th street pier. The Ocean City Beach Patrol has since announced extended hours until 8 p.m. at 8th, 9th and 12th street beaches 7 days a week until Labor Day.
For now, Hammond’s body remains at the Cape May County Medical Examiner’s facility, according to Ang. A spokesman with the State Attorney General's office that oversees the medical examiner referred all questions to the Ocean City police.
"I know the family's having some financial difficulty making the arrangments," Ang said. He said the police advised them to conduct a community outreach to try to get help with the finances. He said the family was not allowed to view the body last week because of its condition after being in the surf for four days, though he added that there was no signs of any impact from sharks or other marine life.
"I've seen them come out of the water and this one was not that bad," Ang said. "But it's not going to look the same as the little boy who wentinto the water." He said police have "no doubt in our minds" that the body is Corinthian, due to the clothing and other descriptions. He said the body can be released to the family once they make arrangements for transport.
Hammond, who completed Grover Washington Middle School in Olney last Spring, went into the water in Ocean City, where he was visiting a friend, around 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, a time when lifeguards had finished their scheduled beach shifts and were no longer on the beach, though a rapid response team was posted three blocks away.
The beach is subject to dangerous currents, and is posted with signs warning swimmers against going in without lifeguards present.
Friends told the Inquirer that Hammond had been helping other children who were struggling with onshore currents when he was swept away.
A group of Ocean City lifeguards, summoned to the scene, later said they rescued more than a dozen children from the surf that evening.
Lifeguards had been scheduled to work the beach until 8 p.m. on the previous Friday and Saturday nights, but not Sunday.
Last week Ocean City issued a statement saying it plans to extend the daily lifeguard shift on 8th, 9th and 12th Sts., off the busy commercial Boardwalk in the heart of the town’s rental district, to 8 p.m., from the usual 5 p.m. weekdays and 5:30 p.m. on weekends. Lifeguards go on duty at 10 a.m.
- Joseph N. DiStefano and Amy S. Rosenberg