Families ask judge to close N.J. beach where 3 died

The highlighted yellow area is where 3 people died. (Alan Tu/Google Earth)

The highlighted yellow area is where 3 people died. (Alan Tu/Google Earth)

Relatives of three people who died when the sand they were walking on at a New Jersey beach gave way beneath their feet urged a judge to permanently close the beach, saying it’s only a matter of time before someone else dies there. 

Relatives of Brad Smith, who died in July 2012, asked Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez in Atlantic City on Friday to close a section of beach in North Wildwood.

An attorney representing the family had previously said Smith, 54, was walking in shallow water when he was suddenly pulled further out after changing currents created a “violent whirlpool or vortex effect.” 

Although they are not part of the current litigation, relatives of Jamila Watkins, 27. and Shayne Hart, 15, also called for the beach to be closed. In the summer of 2009 Watkins and Hart were pulled further away from the beach by strong currents. 

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North Wildwood and the state say the deaths were due to natural condition that government has no obligation to fix.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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