Search ends for 14-year-old boy missing in Ocean City waters

A rescue team searches the Ocean City beach where a Phila. teen went missing Sunday around 6:45 p.m. People sitting on the beach ran in to try to help.
A rescue team searches the Ocean City beach where a Phila. teen went missing Sunday around 6:45 p.m. People sitting on the beach ran in to try to help. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: July 02, 2014

Rescuers have called off their search for a 14-year-old Philadelphia boy who was swept away in a riptide Sunday evening in Ocean City, N.J.

The search by the Coast Guard and the Ocean City Police Department ended just before 4 p.m. Monday.

Cindy Oldham, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard, said, "It's beyond the amount of time [the Coast Guard believes] he would be able to survive."

Oldham said rescue crews took into consideration the boy's age, his swimming ability, and the water temperature before deciding to discontinue the active search.

Authorities have not released any information besides the hometown of the boy, since he is a juvenile. Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Breunig said the rescue, which halted overnight Sunday, resumed at 6 a.m. Monday.

Two Coast Guard boats were searching Monday afternoon about 200 yards off the New Jersey resort town, near Ninth Street, the area where the boy went missing.

The boy was with more than a dozen other individuals who were in the water Sunday around 6:45 p.m. when a riptide swept them from the shore. People sitting on the beach ran in to try to help.

The Ocean City Beach Patrol Rapid Response Team at 12th Street received a 911 call and arrived within a minute, according to a news release from Ocean City fire and rescue authorities. The team rescued 14 people from the water and then discovered one boy was missing.

Teams of firefighters and beach patrol used rescue equipment and divers to search the area for two hours Sunday night. The beach is closed to bathers after 5:30 p.m.

Monday afternoon people strolled the boardwalk while sunbathers laid along the beach and swimmers dipped in and out of the waters, seemingly unaware of the ongoing search.

Though the search has been called off, the Ocean City Police Department will continue an investigation into the incident.

Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the rip current risk Sunday night was considered low, "but that doesn't mean there aren't any rip currents," he said.

"You may still have some structures in place that can be spots for rip currents to develop along the ocean front," Gaines said.

Last year, there were no rip current fatalities along the New Jersey and Delaware coastlines, Gaines said. There have been none this year.

Gaines said heading into the holiday weekend, which will be stormy, beachgoers should anticipate riptide risks elevated to moderate or high.

"Unfortunately, there is going to be some stormy weather moving in focused on Thursday and the first part of Friday, so those factors are going to come into play," he said.

The weather service website suggests always swimming on guarded beaches and staying at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties where rip currents can form. If caught in a riptide, the weather service advises swimming parallel to the shore.


cmindock@phillynews.com

856-779-3237

@clarkmindock

Staff writer Julia Terruso contributed to this article.

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