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Rescue crews look for missing swimmer off Mission Beach

It was meant to be a celebration about graduation but sadly a day at the beach turned tragic for some local high schoolers. Dangerous riptides proved too much for one senior grad but luckily two others were saved from the sea by lifeguards. KPBS reporter John Carroll with the loss of a loved one, and words of warning.

Lifeguards and police dive teams were still searching Wednesday for a swimmer who went missing near Tower 16 in Mission Beach.

San Diego Fire & Rescue Department lifeguards spotted a group of swimmers with one individual who appeared to be in distress near Jersey Court at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Two unidentified teenagers were rescued, while a male victim did not surface, according to Monica Munoz, the communications manager for SDFD.

Search efforts, including aid from the U.S. Coast Guard, continued until about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the incident was upgraded to a recovery effort, Munoz said.

As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, lifeguards had three rescue vessels and rescue water craft conducting scuba searches using sonar equipment, for a total of 18 personnel assigned to the effort. The San Diego Police Department dive and helicopter teams were also aiding in the search.

San Diego Lifeguard Service Chief James Gartland elaborated on the search effort. “We have two teams out there searching. The visibility is very low. It’s about 2 to 3 feet today inside the surfline and maybe 6 feet outside the surfline... So right now we are diving and we are essentially dragging and mapping the bottom with sonar for positive targets. We have the Coast Guard and other federal agencies helping us out," he said.

Gartland said no one should ever go all the way into the ocean unless they're a strong ocean swimmer. He said if you do find yourself caught in a rip tide, don't fight it. Just float on the surface and call for help.