Search continues for missing cliff jumper off Inspiration Point

The search for a swimmer who went missing after jumping off a ledge into the ocean off the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes entered its third day Friday.

Joseph Sanchez, 18, went missing around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Lifeguards, sheriff's officials and the U.S. Coast Guard have been combing the waters around the rocky outcrop ever since, and planned to widen their search Friday.

Officials believe Sanchez will most likely be found in the area surrounding the cove because of the nature of the currents, but haven't ruled out the possibility of waves having pulled him farther out to sea.

“Anything is possible. You’re in the ocean," said Nicole Nishida, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

If Sanchez is not found Friday, the search will continue at least through the weekend, Nishida said.

Sanchez was last seen by his friends after making the popular jump at Inspiration Point, a few hundred yards from Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. Friends said he made the jump regularly, but was not a strong swimmer. This time, he became trapped by the current.

"His friends told him to hold on to the rocks as long as possible. They were going to get help," said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Keith Mora.
The cove is popular among hikers and adventures seekers. A ledge -- not visible from the road -- hangs above a gorge, from which people frequently jump to the water below. It's a drop of 10 to 15 feet depending on the tide.
But the surf below is dangerous. The current and rip tide swirl the water within the 50-foot cove, making it difficult to climb out onto the surrounding rocks.
Four major rescues have been performed in the area since July 1, and authorities have fielded 60 calls for assistance.

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