Islip Man Found Dead at Point Was Chef and Avid Fisherman

“He was born with a fishing pole in his hand,” said Aaron Bruno’s mother, Avida Del Genio. On March 28, Mr. Bruno’s body was found in the water north of Montauk Point, where he had been fishing. Courtesy of Avida Del Genio/Facebook

The body of an Islip fisherman was pulled from the water north of Montauk Point shortly after 5 p.m. on March 28 after a surfer spotted him floating facedown in the water. 

Aaron Bruno, 29, “died doing what he loved,” his mother, Avida Del Genio, said yesterday. “Fish, fish, fish. That’s all he wanted to do. . . . He was born with a fishing pole in his hand.” 

While the family is still in shock over his death, Ms. Del Genio said she is “at peace with the way he died.” He had fished all over Long Island, from the Great South Bay to Argyle Lake in Babylon to the Connetquot River to Wading River, but “he loved Montauk, especially,” she said. 

Mr. Bruno, a chef, had interviewed for a job at Gurney’s Resort in Montauk earlier that day. “If he got the job, he was going to move out there,” his mother said. 

Cooking was his passion, she said, and one he discovered early on, while still in high school in Islip. He went on to attend the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Connecticut and to work at restaurants around the Island and at a Club Med in the Dominican Republic. 

“I’m a very young chef but at the same time very knowledgeable and willing to learn more,” he wrote on his LinkedIn page last year. He described himself as “a sous-chef looking for a greater opportunity,” and said, “My biggest achievement in the culinary industry is understanding the art in culinary arts.” 

“He was happy doing what he was doing and wanted to better himself with every job he had,” Ms. Del Genio said. “He was a big guy with a big heart.”

“He loved exploring restaurants and he cooked everything,” his mother said. Asian fusion was a specialty, as was Italian cuisine, “and, of course, seafood.”

She plans to visit Montauk on April 19 to place a wreath near the spot where he died. Her brother and sister made the journey there on Friday afternoon, she said. Greg Donahue, the director of erosion control for the Montauk Lighthouse, showed them the rocky area where her son was fishing and talked with them about how special the Point was to so many fishermen.

Ms. Del Genio had spoken with Mr. Donahue as well and had also talked with Dalton Portella, the surfer and photographer who made the initial 911 call on March 28.

“The waves were amazing,” Mr. Portella said last Thursday, and surfers were out in force. He was taking pictures of the surf when he noticed what at first appeared to be a dead seal in the water, about five feet offshore. When he got closer, he realized it was a person and called for help. As he waited to flag down first responders by the dirt road that leads to the beach, other surfers pulled Mr. Bruno from the water. 

“Lee Meirowitz was attempting CPR, but it was pointless; he was long gone,” Mr. Portella said. 

East Hampton Town police and Marine Patrol officers responded to the scene, as did Montauk emergency medical technicians. The matter was turned over to New York State Parks police, who are investigating, “although we don’t suspect any criminality,” a parks police spokesman said last Thursday morning. 

Mr. Portella said fellow surfers believe they spotted Mr. Bruno walking by the base of the Lighthouse toward Turtle Cove on the south side of Montauk Point about two and a half hours earlier. He had a fishing pole and tackle box in hand, they told him. 

“Sadly, he underestimated the strong force of the ocean and he drowned,” his mother wrote on Facebook.

Given the currents, Mr. Portella guessed that Mr. Bruno could have hit his head on a rock on the south side and been carried to the north side of the Point, where he was found on an incoming tide. “If there hadn’t been anybody surfing there he wouldn’t have been found for days.”

The official cause of death is under investigation by the Suffolk County medical examiner, a parks police spokesman said last Thursday morning.

A funeral Mass for Mr. Bruno was said on Monday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Islip. He was buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Bay Shore.

In addition to his mother, Mr. Bruno is survived by a stepfather, Andrew Del Genio, and two sisters, Lauren and Erica Del Genio, all of Islip, and by grandparents in Richmond Hill, Brooklyn.

Dalton Portella
Two days before he died, Mr. Bruno photographed trout and perch he caught in Islip and later cooked for his grandparents. At right, one of his culinary creations. On his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Bruno said he understood the "art in culinary arts."Courtesy Avida Del Genio