LATHAM, N.Y. — A vacation to Florida turned into tragedy Saturday when a New York teen drowned while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean a day before her 18th birthday.
Danielle Marceline, 17, of Lansingburgh, drowned while swimming off Cocoa Beach when she was caught in rough seas and pulled underwater by the ocean’s current, at about 1 p.m. EST, the Albany Times Union reported. One of the teen’s friends, Mary Doyle, was rescued by the lifeguards, according to a statement from the Lansingburgh Central School District, where Marceline previously attended.
According to a Facebook post by the Cocoa Beach Police Department, “lifeguards were able to assist one female safely to shore; however, her friend was carried further out by the strong current.”
Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard later assisted in the search, along with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office aviation unit.
A couple walking along the beach at about 1 a.m. EST on Sunday found Marceline’s body, the police department said.
Marceline was a volleyball player, a dancer and wanted to study interior design in college, according to WTEN-TV. Before transferring to Catholic Central School in Troy, she was a student in the Lansingburgh district.
She was in Florida with her mother and friend for a vacation to celebrate her upcoming 18th birthday.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lansingburgh Central School moved to online-only classes when Marceline was a sophomore, the Times Union reported. She transferred to Catholic Central School, where she continued her extracurricular activities, according to the newspaper.
In a statement, Lansingburgh Superintendent Antonio Abitabile said in part, “in speaking to some of her teachers, she was an absolute pleasure to have in class, bringing smiles to those around her.”
“This is a tragedy that impacts every member of the school community,” Giovanni Virgiglio, superintendent of schools at Albany Diocesan School Board, told the Times Union.
Regina Hunter, who created a GoFundMe page to help the Marceline family, said her daughter grew up with the teen.
“She was a quiet girl, and very sweet girl,” Hunter told WTEN. “Once you got to know her, you got to see how goofy she was.”
As a dancer, Marceline spent four years training at the Art in Motion Dance Academy in Colonie, WNYT-TV reported.
“You could tell while she was performing, she exuded her love and passion for dance,” Andrea DiDio, owner of the academy, told the television station. “I would like to remember her as that fierce performer when she walked out on stage. Your eye was literally drawn to her when she was performing.”
Catholic Central held a prayer service for Marceline on Monday morning, WTEN reported.
“This was supposed to be an amazing mother-daughter weekend. It was something she always wanted,” the teen’s mother, Christine Marceline, told the Times Union. “It was supposed to be the best weekend of her life and it took her life away.”
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