|Page (1) of 1 - 09/01/11||email article||print page|
Coast Guard searches for swimmer who vanished amid high surf on southern California coast
SEAL BEACH, Calif. (AP) ' Searchers scoured the Southern California coast Thursday for a swimmer who vanished in a rip current as authorities warned that dangerously high waves were arriving from a winter storm off New Zealand.
Waves topping 4 feet were reported at Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County, where lifeguards reported at least one rescue early Thursday morning. High tide arrived around noon.
The National Weather Service said waves of 8 feet to 11 feet or more could hit beaches from San Luis Obispo to San Diego counties through the afternoon and peak Thursday night or early Friday.
To the delight of surfers, occasional 20-foot waves slammed into the Wedge, a popular body-surfing spot at Newport Beach in Orange County.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard searched for a man who vanished while body-boarding with three friends at Seal Beach on Wednesday afternoon.
An overnight search failed to find Jowayne Binford, 26, of Long Beach, but a boat and helicopter continued to search 61 miles of coastline, Coast Guard spokesman Trent Kelly said.
Binford's mother, Renee Binford, was at the beach early Thursday morning and said her son was a good swimmer and she had not given up hope that he would be found safe.
At the time, there was a strong rip current ' a strong channel of water flowing out to sea that can quickly exhaust swimmers who struggle against it. Authorities recommend that swimmers caught in a rip swim across it, parallel to the shoreline, until they are out of the current, then head for the beach.
"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 neighboring 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."