HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — The search for a missing swimmer off the coast of Huntington Beach continued Saturday before being suspended a second time.
Van Nguyen, 53, of San Francisco was visiting friends who live in Huntington Beach when he decided to test the large surf around 4 p.m. Friday, officials said. The man drowned near Tower 18. He reportedly was hit by a 5-foot wave and then riptides dragged him under.
“We have a heatwave going right now,” Huntington Beach Lifeguard Claude Panis said. “People are going to be automatically drawn to come out to the beach but we also have very large surf. It’s very dangerous out there.”
Nguyen’s friends screamed for help. However, in autumn, not all the lifeguard towers are manned.
“The conditions for us all day have been challenging,” Panis says, “because we’ve had large rip currents and minimal staffing. All we could get together today was two towers. And on a day like this, you really want all the towers open.”
“If you’re not an expert swimmer this weekend, you shouldn’t go in the water,” Panis added.
Lifeguards in boats and personal watercraft searched for the missing swimmer for three hours Friday. There was no trace of the man.
The U.S. Coast Guard, along with several other agencies, including Huntington Beach lifeguards, resumed the search Saturday morning. However, the search was suspended a second time sometime before 2 p.m. Saturday.
“The Coast Guard search spanned more than 152 square nautical miles before suspending search efforts pending further developments,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.