Water rescue efforts turned into a recovery operation Thursday evening after a teen went missing in the waters off Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay hours earlier, authorities said.
The call came in about 3:10 p.m., and multiple agencies searched from the air and in the ocean for a missing 18-year-old Hayward High School who had been boogie-boarding offshore when he became distressed, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said.
Two friends went into the water to help the teen and needed help themselves getting back to shore, officials said.
Authorities fear the teen drowned, and many rescue workers were preparing to leave the scene Thursday evening. A Coast Guard unit was expected to continue searching the waters until midnight, officials said.
Janet Sylvester’s grandson A.J. was one of the other teens in the water boogie boarding with friends when a rip current pulled them into the ocean.
"As soon as it hit, you had maybe a second or two to breathe, and it would come rolling in again," Sylvester said. "There just wasn’t time to get a breath."
She said her grandson tried to swim into the current to help but wasn’t able to get to his friend.
Rescue crews launched two boats and two helicopters with infrared cameras aboard to pick up the 18-year-old’s body heat. But the helicopters had to be turned away.
"Because of the dense fog, they can’t penetrate ... through the fog to see direct down to the water," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Brian Ham said.
Most of the teens at the beach were fellow athletes at Hayward High School on spring break.