Search resumes for Seaside Heights swimmer

September 3, 2009 9:19:54 AM PDT
State police in boats and a helicopter are searching for a New Jersey teenager who disappeared after being knocked down in rough surf. The teenager from Voorhees, New Jersey is presumed drowned.

Seaside Heights police got a call around 1:00 this afternoon about a 16-year-old swimmer in trouble, swept out to sea.

Witnesses say a group of 5 teens were on boogie boards in the water near Hamilton Avenue and Ocean Terrace.

Three got caught in a rip current. One friend tried to save a panicked teen.

Even trained lifeguards had a hard time.

"They were diving down, coming back up," Rick Phillips explained.

It was an aggressive four hour search from the water, the sky and the sand. A rescue boat towed about a dozen rescuers on a red line, each one tirelessly searching for the missing swimmer.

"They made a chain. They tried everything," Barbara Gigante said.

Coast guard crews flew a helicopter from Atlantic City and a rescue boat from Manasquan.

But even with all that help, the sea was too powerful for rescuers.The Coast Guard suspended its search for the 16-year-old around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

"The ocean was rough. It's gotten better, but it was bad," Dixie Karpinsky said.

Officials said Roberts is the first drowning victim with a lifeguard on duty ever in Seaside Heights.

He was one of seven children from a group home run by Youth Consultation Services in Somerdale, New Jersey visiting the beach. Three adult supervisors were also on the trip, police said.

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