DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A 14-year-old boy from Altamonte Springs is dead after he went missing while swimming in the ocean off of Daytona Beach, according to Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.
The boy was identified by Joshua Masson by beach safety.
Beach safety said the boy was swimming with friends near the Hard Rock Hotel around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The U.S. Coast Guard assisted with a search operation, but rescue efforts were called off around 9:30 p.m. due to visibility issues, according to a news release.
The boy was ultimately found by bystanders less than a mile north of where he went missing, beach safety said.
Lifesaving efforts were attempted and the teen was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The boy’s identity has not yet been released.
Volusia County Beach Safety says the 14-year-old was visiting the beach for the day with some friends. The teens headed out into the water one last time to rinse off when the boy disappeared.
“Three of the teenagers started walking in when they turned around and saw a small struggle with the fourth teenager, and then they couldn’t see him any longer,” said Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs.
Malphurs says they believe the teen got caught in a rip current. Flags flying at the beach Thursday warned swimmers there was a high risk.
“Some of the teenagers that were in the water said they felt a little bit of a pull from the rip current, and so, we absolutely believe it is rip current-related,” said Malphurs.
Kelly Pagan, who was visiting the beach with her family, saw the rescue crews searching for the missing swimmer.
“As a mom, it was just really heartbreaking,” said Pagan. “I started crying immediately because as the search carries on you worry.”
Beach safety said bystanders walking along the shore spotted the boy less than a mile from where he went missing.
“It’s just sad because it’s summer. So, you see everybody in the ocean,” said Pagan.
Every year lifeguards in Volusia say they respond to about 3,000 rip current rescues. It’s why they are reminding people to stay in front of staffed lifeguard towers when visiting the beach this summer.
“Even the strongest swimmers can get caught in a rip current. That’s why it’s so important to be in front of those staffed lifeguard towers. A lot of times they can see you get caught in that rip current before you even realize you’re in it,” said Malphurs.
Malphurs also encourages families to download the Volusia Beaches mobile app to see where the lifeguard towers are located. The towers are staffed from 10:00a.m. to 6:00p.m.
Beach Safety says it was 7:30 p.m. when the 14-year-old boy disappeared in the surf. They strongly recommend people stay out of the water if there is not a tower lifeguard on duty.
Beach Safety suggests downloading the Volusia Beaches mobile app to get the latest information about the beaches, including lifeguard locations.
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