A Coast Guard helicopter. Courtesy Department of Defense
A Coast Guard helicopter. Courtesy Department of Defense

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday for a former U.S. Army soldier who was reported missing in the ocean off Manhattan Beach after going for a swim amid heavy rip currents, but sheriff’s department personnel continued to scour the area.

The man — identified as Derek Jeffries, 25, of Hawthorne — went missing around 5 p.m. Tuesday when he swam into the surf wearing only gray shorts, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Friends at the scene said they did not hear Jeffries call out or and were unaware he might have been struggling in the water.

Lifeguards at the scene reported strong lateral rip currents Tuesday.

The Coast Guard and county lifeguards started their search Tuesday evening but suspended the efforts around 9 p.m. because of darkness. The search resumed at dawn this morning, with a Coast Guard helicopter in the air before 7 a.m., said Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Michael Pittman.

Coast Guard officials said it conducted searches throughout the night.

According to the Coast Guard, the agency deployed the cutter Halibut from Marina del Rey, the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Los Angeles and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Los Angeles.

At about 8:30 a.m., the Coast Guard announced it was suspending its search, but sheriff’s personnel would continue searching the water.

“It is always a difficult decision to end an active search, however, Coast Guard crews saturated the area for 16 hours in search of the missing swimmer,” said Capt. Jennifer Williams, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach.

Anyone with information that could help the search for Jeffries was urged to call the U.S. Coast Guard at (310) 521-3801.

—City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *