18-year-old vacationing from Britain goes missing while snorkeling off Newport Beach
An 18-year-old man vacationing from Britain was reported missing in Newport Beach on Monday, according to authorities.
“At this point, we’re not really sure of his whereabouts,” said Mike Halphide, assistant chief of the city’s Marine Operations Division. “We’ve been in contact with the family, and they have not been contacted by the young man, nor have the police.”
The man was last seen snorkeling near the Newport Pier, where his father lost track of him shortly after 7 a.m., Halphide said. Police identified the man only by the name Christopher.
After waiting for him for a while, the teen’s father went to lifeguard Tower 24 to report him missing at 9:17 a.m., according to Halphide.
Lifeguards searched the area using paddleboards, snorkels, patrol trucks and rescue boats. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department assisted.
Halphide said a helicopter was used to check the area on Tuesday and likely will be deployed again Wednesday.
“We are in watch-and-wait mode,” the assistant chief said. “We don’t have much further that we can effectively do.”
Conditions Monday were clear, with good visibility, calm winds and light surf, Halphide said.
He said a woman contacted lifeguards about 7:15 a.m. and “said a surfer came up to her and told her they’d seen a surfer or swimmer in distress.” However, lifeguards “were unable to locate anyone,” Halphide said.
“We would have expected that had the gentleman been in the water in that area, we would have been able to locate him with our search,” he said.
The missing man is a British citizen who is visiting family in Orange County, according to Halphide. He reportedly was wearing a mask, snorkel, fins and board shorts when he was last seen.
Lifeguards are continuing to patrol the area.
“We’re kind of at a loss to explain it,” Halphide said. “So we’re working with our Police Department and keeping an eye out on the water in hopes that we’ll figure out where he went.”
Money writes for Times Community News.
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