SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – San Francisco Fire and Coast Guard crews along Ocean Beach in San Francisco called off their search late Wednesday morning for a swimmer who went missing Tuesday evening.
Signs posted at Ocean Beach are reminders for swimmer to use caution when trying to cool off in the water.
Despite those signs, it’s not uncommon for swimmers to go missing. Search crews spent more than 13 hours looking for a 19-year-old man who hasn’t been seen for more than 16 hours.
With waves pounding against Seal Rock and crashing onshore, the conditions did not bode well for the missing swimmer.
Surfer Greg Neverka was here Tuesday night when firefighters rushed to the beach.
“An hour and a half before dark, a fire truck just rolled up as I was putting my wetsuit on,” remembered Neverka. Guys jumped out. “It was clear someone was missing.”
U.S. Coast Guard officials tell KPIX 5 the missing 19-year-old man was last seen taking off for a swim, wearing just trunks late Tuesday afternoon.
“I would not recommend it if it’s windy,” said surfer Jeff Cabre. “It’s cold. People get swept away a lot.”
Experienced surfers warn of the risks of the rip currents.
“Right now, it’s sucking north,” explained Cabre. “It can suck south. It can pull you out if you get caught in a rip.”
When the swimmer didn’t show up around 7:30 p.m. his friend called 911. Some witnesses said that was a couple hours into his swim.
The San Francisco Fire Department searched up and down the shore, along with an 87-foot Coast Guard cutter and another 45-foot boat.
The crews went north and south through the night and all morning with no luck.
“If you weren’t watching when he first went in, it’s like a needle in a haystack,” said Neverka.
As with any search, each hour that passes leads to more grief with the likelihood of survival worsening every minute.
In fact, by late Wednesday morning, the Coast Guard determined due to the weather, currents and water temperature that it was time to call off the search.
The Coast Guard wants to warn everyone thinking about swimming at Ocean Beach to wear a wet suit or have a life jacket. If you think a swimmer might be in distress, it is better to call authorities sooner rather than later.