Teen Drowns Trying To Save Toddler

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — A 14-year-old girl drowned trying to save her 3-year-old stepsister after the wake of a large boat swept the younger girl off a jetty.

Tina Johnson, 14, and Kristie Terlizzi, 3, were sitting on a rock jetty in Great Kills Park on Staten Island Thursday afternoon when the wave swept Kristie out, authorities said. The girls had been watching Kristie's father fish in the Atlantic.

Tina jumped in and tried to save the younger girl, but soon found herself in trouble, said Allen Blanchard, an uncle. Kristie's father, Richard Terlizzi, 35, then tried to save both girls, but was soon overwhelmed in the choppy water, said Sgt. Jim Foley, a police spokesman.

Three people in a small motorboat pulled the 3-year-old and her father from the water, using a fishing net to scoop the girl up.

``She was floating face down in the water,'' said boat owner Steve Clohessy, who gave the girl CPR.

Police and Fire Department divers and helicopters searched for nearly an hour and a half before finding Tina, who was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital.

The 3-year-old was in critical but stable condition Friday at the hospital. Terlizzi was treated for hypothermia and released.