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Families Mourn Bronx River Drowning Victims

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The Parks Department is renewing its warning about not swimming in parts of the Bronx River which are off limits, a day after two teenagers drowned there – leaving the families in mourning.

Witnesses and family members say David Luccioni Jr, 17, jumped into the river at around 3 p.m. yesterday just south of the Bronx Zoo to rescue Crystal Reyes, 14, who slipped in.

Neither made it out alive.

Emergency crews found their bodies minutes later after David's twin, who was hanging out with his brother and some others by the river, tried to save him. David was still wearing his boots and his father, David Luccioni Sr, said David had never planned on swimming, but jumped in when he saw Reyes struggling.

Both were pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital.

"It shouldn't have been him,” said Luccioni Sr, who dropped off a 'last breakfast' at the site this morning. “It should've been the boyfriend or whoever she was with. It shouldn't be him."

According to Reyes' mother, the girl did not know how to swim. In fact, she had just purchased her first bathing suit and was planning on learning.

Reyes would have turned 15 next week.

"I'm hurting for both my baby and the angel who tried to save her," said Elba Torres, Reyes' mother. "You know, it's not easy. But basically, I just want to send my condolences to David's family. I will try to get to the cemetery to him as soon as I can."

Reyes' mother says her daughter recently decided to live part-time at home and part-time with her boyfriend because she wanted more freedom.

She was supposed to be at her boyfriend's apartment Sunday, but when her mother went there to pick her up there, they had already left for the river.

"I just hope and pray my baby didn't suffer,” Torres said.

Residents say they see kids in the water all the time, despite the signs warning to stay out of the river. In fact, some have seen kids tear down the signs. None were posted near the site of the drowning on Monday morning.

The Parks Department says it's constantly patrolling the area.

“There are 500 miles of shoreline in New York City. It's simply impossible to guard all of that shoreline and we can't put up fences with barbed wire. People want access to the water,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “In the case of River Park, we have a continuous fence along the whole area. We have prominent signs that say ‘danger, no swimming.’ People know it's dangerous. Unfortunately it's just so sad.”

Luccioni says the boy’s mother warned him before he went to the park to stay out of the river. He says his son was a good student who wanted to be a lawyer. A good kid, whose good intentions cost him his life.

"He got heart,” said his father. “He got a big heart."

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