In what is being described as a “very sad and very heroic situation,” 18-year-old Jalan Alston, of Brooklyn, lost his life after helping two female friends get out of the storm-tossed Atlantic Ocean on Friday, according Ventnor Police Chief Doug Biagi.
Authorities recovered Alston’s body on Saturday evening, a few miles from where he was last seen in the water in Ventnor the night before. His name was not released at that time.
On Sunday, Biagi said that the full story would be told Monday, in keeping with the wishes of the young man’s family, but that Alston knew the teenagers, who the chief said are sisters, and that he ultimately sacrificed himself trying to help them.
“The family wants the story told that he assisted the girls get close enough to the shore that they were able to get out and in doing so, he lost his energy and was unable to survive himself,” Biagi said.
“The search has been concluded and my brother has been found,” Mark Alston, the deceased’s older brother, wrote in a tweet. “He gave his life to save 2 others, he is forever blessed and will be forever loved.”
In an interview Sunday, Mark Alston, 23, of Brooklyn said he was not surprised that his brother put himself at risk to try to help his friends.
“This is not too far off something he would do. He is a nice person, a giving person,” the older brother said.
Jalan had recently graduated from high school and gotten a summer job, said his brother. He hoped to take the New York City civil service examination in the fall or possibly go to college.
The elder brother said Jalan had gone to the Ventnor area Friday to visit the teenagers, who were friends of his.
The young man was found about 6:20 p.m. in the area of Albany Avenue in Atlantic City after two people noticed his body and notified Atlantic City lifeguards, Biagi said.
Police were called to the Victoria Avenue Beach shortly before 7 p.m. Friday. Alston had helped the two teenagers who were in the water and “placed himself in further danger, ultimately sacrificing himself in the process,” Biagi told BreakingAC.
The water had been rough at the time from Tropical Storm Fay and lifeguards had prohibited anyone from swimming, Biagi said. The accident occurred shortly after the beach patrol had closed for the day.
Police and fire departments from Ventnor, Margate, Longport, and Atlantic City were involved in a search for the man on Friday night, Biagi said. The Coast Guard was also on the scene.