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Search for teen drowning victim to resume Thursday off Mission Beach

Family and friends watch as lifeguards searched for a drowning victim off of Mission Beach
Family and friends gather at Mission Beach off of Jersey Court near Tower 16 as the search resumed Wednesday for a drowning victim who went under water Tuesday and never resurfaced.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The 18-year-old went under and never resurfaced about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the ocean off Jersey Court, a few blocks north of Belmont Park

A search for a teenager who drowned off Mission Beach will resume Thursday, two days after strong rip currents pulled the young man underwater.

On Wednesday, about two dozen of the teen’s friends and family members sat along the shoreline, comforting each other and staring out at the ocean, watching as lifeguards in boats and on jet skis cut through the water north of Belmont Park.

Long-stemmed roses were placed in a line along a large mound of sand near lifeguard Tower 16, the area where the teen had gone missing a day earlier.

Authorities have not released the victim’s name, but confirmed that he was 18 years old.

Family and friends gather as searchers look for drowned teenager at Mission Beach
Family and friends gather on the beach Wednesday as searchers look for a teenager believed to have drowned Tuesday at Mission Beach.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

On Wednesday, 18 San Diego Fire-Rescue lifeguards aboard rescue vessels and watercraft participated in the search, using sonar to aid in the scuba searches, Fire-Rescue Department spokesperson Mónica Muñoz said.

A Coast Guard helicopter and a San Diego Fire-Rescue helicopter were also part of the search effort.

Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said strong currents affected the underwater searches.

“Visibility was less than three feet (on Wednesday), which is better than it was the day before, when it was like zero,” he said.

Measuring along the shore, the search area stretched from about Tower 16 to Tower 20, roughly three-quarters of a mile. Gartland said authorities determine where to search based on data and experience.

The drowning happened Tuesday afternoon in the water off Jersey Court, a few blocks north of Belmont Park and the main Mission Beach parking lots, near lifeguard tower 16, Muñoz said.

A lifeguard watching the beach spotted a group of swimmers around 3:30 p.m. and, after noting that one appeared to be struggling, radioed for other lifeguards to move into the area for a possible rescue, according to Muñoz. The lifeguards pulled two teens from the water, but the third submerged and disappeared.

Lifeguards “immediately called for more resources to search the area,” including a Fire-Rescue Department helicopter and lifeguards in the water, on personal watercraft, boats and surfboards, Muñoz said. After a 75-minute search, lifeguards deemed the effort had turned from rescue to recovery.

Updates

2:55 p.m. June 15, 2022: This story was updated with additional details.


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