|Page (1) of 1 - 09/01/11||email article||print page|
Coast Guard suspends search for body-boarder who vanished off Southern California coast
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) ' The Coast Guard on Thursday suspended its search for a missing body-boarder after a fruitless overnight hunt that covered 78 square miles of Southern California ocean.
Jowayne Binford, 24, of Long Beach, was with three friends when he disappeared Wednesday evening in the waters about 200 yards off the Surfside area of Huntington Beach, Coast Guard spokesman Trent Kelly said.
An air and sea search failed to find any trace of Binford, although efforts could resume if new information is received that warrants it, Kelly said.
Binford and his friends had gone into the water despite a warning that the lifeguard station was closing for the night, a witness said.
The lifeguard "didn't order them out of the water. He said you need to stay close to the shore for your own safety," Mike Spainhower told KCAL-TV.
There was a rip current in the area at the time Binford vanished as a winter storm in New Zealand roughened seas along central and Southern California.
Rip currents are strong channels of water flowing out to sea that quickly exhaust swimmers who struggle against them. Authorities recommend that swimmers caught swim parallel to the shoreline until they are out of the current.
"We could tell yesterday the waves were getting a lot bigger and the current was getting strong. The yellow (warning) flags were waving," said Rhonda Selmanson, who has lived in a seaside home at Sunset Beach for three years.
She helped search for Binford along the beach Wednesday night.
"We were all very concerned," she said.
"You can't underestimate the power of the water," she added. "Even good surfers and swimmers as we are, a lot of times we know it's just not safe."
Meanwhile, authorities warned swimmers and surfers to be careful Thursday afternoon because of dangerously high waves that could hit Central and Southern California through the day. Waves of up to a dozen feet were possible from San Luis Obispo to San Diego counties, the National Weather Service said.
To the delight of surfers, occasional 20-foot waves slammed into the Wedge, a popular body-surfing spot at Newport Beach in Orange County.
The high waves could peak Thursday night or early Friday with large swells through Saturday, the weather service said.