Two kayakers who got in over their heads in the waters off New York have put authorities at John F. Kennedy Airport on the defensive after flipping their boat and accidentally finding themselves in a restricted area of the airport.
The kayakers, Jordan Crooms and Anthony Giglio, both 21, had set out for a Saturday night excursion on Jamaica Bay but flipped over and lost two of their paddles. They made their way with their single remaining paddle for the closest land - an airport runway, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.
Workers for the Port Authority, which runs the facility, saw them and called airport police, who issued them summonses for trespassing before releasing them.
The pair made it to the sensitive area without tripping the sensors of Port Authority's much-touted Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, estimated to have cost the authority $100 million to install.
Agency spokesman Ron Marsico pointed out that the kayakers were stopped before they made it onto the runways or into the terminals.
"Kayakers did not breach the secure airfield," Marsico wrote in an email. "They were seeking help in a restricted water area and at a light pier. They were encountered quickly and provided help."
But Bobby Egbert, spokesman for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, said that the incident demonstrated that the Port Authority made a mistake when it decided to rely on the electronic system and not 24-hour marine patrols by uniformed officers.
"The agency does not take policing and security seriously," Egbert said. "They throw money into technology that doesn't work."
Crooms and Giglio could not be reached for immediate comment.
Randall Henricksen, owner of New York Kayak Company, a guide service, said that while the pair should have been better equipped and immediately radioed authorities for help, their instinct was sound.
"If your life is in danger, get to land," he said.