Friends, family seek answers after teen disappears while fishing on Long Island

CENTER MORICHES, Long Island (WABC) -- A community on Long Island is in shock as the search continues for a teenager who went missing while he was fishing last weekend.

Joseph Rera was last seen with friends in the water off Center Moriches on Friday. Now, those friends and his desperate family are looking for answers.

"No one ever thinks, your best friend's going to just disappear out of nowhere," the victim's friend said Wednesday.

But that is how surreal things are since the 16-year-old went missing while fishing. The recovery effort still has not yielded any results.

It was at Cupsogue Beach County Park when Rera and several of his buddies from Center Moriches were doing what they always did -- what they found comfort doing during the pandemic.

"Just fishing was his outlet from anything he was feeling, whether it was sadness, happiness, he would go fish," friend Jacob Ducoing said. "And that's what I guess kept his mind off everything."

But the group fanned out, as they often did, and Rera told his friends he was moving closer to the rocks to fish.

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"He would always fish in the most dangerous spot, but then catch the most fish," friend Colin Leslie said.

Authorities don't really know if Rera was fishing on a sandbar and was then overcome by a wave, or if he slipped off those rocks and was injured.

All his friends know is they went back to look for him to get something to eat, and he was gone.

"It's very tough, honestly," friend James Debler-Seidel said. "I feel very numb at times it hits me."

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Rera was a junior at Center Moriches High School, where grief counselors are now on hand.

His family wants to stress the dangers of fishing at Moriches Inlet and the need for more safeguards.

But the most cruel irony is that fishing was the one thing they could do to stay safe from COVID.

"We really didn't party a lot," friend Paul Loguercio said. "All we did was fish."

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family.

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