CAPE MAY POINT, N.J. – A boisterous New York City Boy Scout who fell to his presumed death off a tour boat off Cape May, N.J., ignored adults who repeatedly tried to stop him and his friends from jumping up and down on the deck, authorities said Sunday.
Nicholas Johs (search), 14, and his friends were leaping on a whale-watching boat Saturday as it bounced along choppy waves, seeing how high they could elevate above the deck.
After repeated warnings to stop, the teen hit the rail while he was airborne, flipped over, and was likely knocked unconscious after landing in the water as his horrified father watched, witnesses said.
"They wouldn't listen," said Ralph Genovese, a crew member. "They kept doing it."
Genovese, 19, risked his own life trying to save the helpless young stranger, diving in shortly after he heard the awful splash.
But the water was too cold, and he was able to stay in for only a few minutes before being pulled back to the boat.
Divers continued searching Sunday for Nicholas' body in the rough water.
Investigators noticed a black T-shirt caught on the propeller that may have belonged to him.
Crew members said the teens ignored adults' warnings.
"The kids were very negligent," Genovese said. "They weren't listening to their chaperones. From the parking lot, I could tell they were trouble."
While divers combed the murky waters, grieving relatives waited for news at the Johs' home.
"The family is devastated," said the Rev. Victor Aranas, a priest at the Church of the Blessed Sacra (search)ment which houses Nicholas' school in the New York City borough of Staten Island. "I gave them a gift of a glass dove etched with the word 'peace.' I told them I have no words to say. But this word on the gift is the one word I can say to them."
Neighbors and friends were taking the news hard, remembering Nicholas as a popular teenager.
"All the kids are very upset," neighbor Sharon Centner. "Our boys played together all the time. He is a great kid. Polite and funny. The family is so loving. They're always together. He was always with his father."
Nicholas was with his father Saturday when the accident occurred. Steven Johs looked on as his son fell into the water, and was about to dive in himself before he saw Genovese go in after the boy.
"It was just a tragedy," said Capt. Ron Robbins, who owns the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center (search). "We're all very upset. We operate a safe business. Nothing like this has ever happened. I tried to comfort the father.
"I introduced myself and hugged him. There's nothing we can do when a kid goes overboard like that."