Search continues for missing swimmer

Reporter: Haley Zarcone Writer: Elyssa Morataya
Published: Updated:

A beach day for four friends took a turn for the worst Tuesday afternoon.

Multiple agencies, including the Sanibel Police Department, were called to the scene in search of a missing teenage swimmer at Blind Beach Pass.

“We started hearing some teenagers crying, like screaming, and at first I thought they were just playing. But then we started seeing their hands go. And they were calling for help,” said Maureen Coelho.

Coelho saw from the shore how quickly this current took 3 of the 4 people out into the gulf. She’s one of the people who made the call for help.

“There were three boys and a girl; the one boy swam in to call 911 to let people know because they had started getting far. They were really far out,” said Coelho, “and we called 911. You know, a few minutes pass and some rescues showed up.”

“Our engine 172 had put their rescue surfboard in the water with one of our rescue swimmers,” said Chris Jackson, Assistant Chief Sanibel Fire Department. “He had gone offshore, and he was probably maybe 100 yards out or so past the swimming buoys and made contact with two people that were in the water. He helped them hang on to the rescue board.”

From the sky, the water, and land, multiple agencies searched Blind Pass for hours as beachgoers held out hope for the one who had yet to make it to shore.

“Right away, I said to the boys, ‘shouldn’t you call his parent? their parents?’ And he’s like, ‘No, I want to wait till they’re rescued,'” said Coelho. “And I’m just thinking as a mom and a grandma, you know, your heart sinks. He’s 17, 18. You have your whole life ahead.”

Sanibel Fire said this is not a rip current situation. There was a normal current on the water today.

“I wish it would have had up 100% positive, you know, positive call and you know, everybody got to go home tonight. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened,” said Jackson.

As for the search, officials stopped looking on the water around 5 this evening, but they’re expected to pick up search efforts again tomorrow

In the meantime the search continues for him tonight from the air and on shore.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.