BONNY DOON (CBS SF) — The United States Coast Guard has suspended the search for two University of California at Santa Cruz students who were swept out to sea Monday at Bonny Doon Beach in Santa Cruz County.
Rescuers suspended their search Tuesday after 22 hours of searching for the pair in the Pacific waters near Davenport.
The two students were identified as a 20-year-old woman from Palo Alto and a 25-year-old man from the San Jose area, according to Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Sgt. Roy Morales.
On Tuesday, family members identified the missing man as Sueleman Noorzai.
“I’m upset you know he’s a really good guy,” Noorzai’s uncle, Mohammed Rasuli, told KPIX. “I can’t believe it. You know he would jump in and save someone. That’s the kind of person he is.”
The search began around 5 p.m Monday when firefighters responded to a call for a cliff rescue at the southern end of Bonny Doon Beach.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Colleen Baxter said that five UCSC students initially went down to the beach and that three of them headed to a rock outcropping, where a 15-foot wave swept them out into the ocean.
One of the three students was able to find their way back to shore, but the other two remain missing.
Of the three people left on the shore, one of them climbed off the beach with a rope, but the two others became stuck and were eventually rescued by Santa Cruz firefighters, using a rope system, fire Division Chief Jason Hadjuk said.
The two students rescued from the beach by firefighters declined medical treatment and were released at the scene.
Firefighters called on the U.S. Coast Guard to aid in the search for the man and the woman who were knocked off the rocks by the waves.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Stanton said his agency sent its Tern Cutter and a motor boat to the scene, where crews faced “extremely low visibility” into the night.
A helicopter crew was also deployed and used an infrared camera that detected two images in the water near a cave. But the crew needed to refuel the helicopter and when they returned and rappelled down to the cave they were unable to find anyone.
The 22-hour search covered 46 square miles before it was suspended Tuesday, Coast Guard officials said.
Tides were high at the time, with waves estimated at 10 to 15 feet. Big surf is expected to continue for the next two weeks and anyone going near the water is urged to use caution.
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