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As search for snorkeler stretches into second week, Newport lifeguards turn to surf cams for clues

As search for snorkeler stretches into second week, Newport lifeguards turn to surf cams for clues
An 18-year-old man was reported missing in Newport Beach on July 1. He was last seen snorkeling near the Newport Pier, authorities said. (File photo)

A week after an 18-year-old man vanished in Newport Beach, authorities are still searching for clues to his whereabouts.

“We are still at a loss to explain exactly what happened,” Mike Halphide, assistant chief of the city’s Marine Operations Division, said Monday.

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The man — whom police have identified only as Christopher — was vacationing from Britain with his family when he went missing July 1.

He was last seen snorkeling near the Newport Pier, where his father lost track of him at about 7:15 a.m., and was reported missing at 9:17 a.m. after he didn’t return to where the family was supposed to meet, according to Halphide.

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Newport Beach lifeguards said beach conditions at the time were good, with clear visibility, calm winds and light surf.

As part of their search, lifeguards are coordinating with Surfline — which publishes online surf reports and beach forecasts and streams live coverage of conditions at popular surf spots, including from a camera mounted at the Newport Pier.

Authorities are looking through video footage from the area to find any evidence that might point to what happened to Christopher, Halphide said.

“Looking at the footage again reinforced that conditions were calm and there were people in that area,” Halphide said.

Video coverage of the popular beach is incomplete, Halphide said, and any activity in the water close to the pier is out of view of the camera, which is mounted on the pier’s upper portion. The teenager has not been seen in any of the Surfline footage reviewed so far, Halphide said.

The only reported sightings of Christopher in the water were from his father and aunt, who were on the pier. They said the teen was in knee-deep water, according to Halphide.

Though lifeguards received a call of a distressed swimmer in the area of 24th Street around the time Christopher was last seen, authorities have determined that was an unrelated incident, Halphide said.

The Newport Beach Police Department is handling the investigation of Christopher’s disappearance as a missing-person case.

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