FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — The Fernandina Beach Fire Department said Thursday that it has found the body of a 15-year-old missing swimmer.
City officials said that the teen got caught in a rip current around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday near the 3rd Street beach access roughly a mile down and 300 yards out. The Coast Guard is searching even further out with helicopters since the current pushes north.
City officials also stated that the boy was here from Georgia with two other people, and all three were in the water with an inflatable raft that got trapped in a rip current.
The woman who called 911 told Action News Jax that the teen was with a friend and his mother.
“They had a blow-up raft between three people. Someone was on it, and when it blew away, someone swam and got it before bringing it over to them. Meanwhile, they got whacked by waves and were tumbled around … One boy came to shore, and I saw one with his head moving across from south to shore … By the time the men got out there, I never saw his head again,” she told Action News Jax’s Ben Ryan.
Several law enforcement agencies searched through the air and water near access point 6-H. The woman Ryan spoke with said she was thinking of the boy’s family.
“It’s just a tragedy. It’s horrible,” she said. “As much as I love the beach and the ocean and what it is, you can’t mess with it.”
Red flags have been flying since Tuesday due to Hurricane Lee’s strong currents. The 911 caller said if anybody is thinking about coming to the beach, it’s crucial to know.
“Make yourself aware of the beach warning system. It’s not great out here. If you’re on a main beach, there’s a flag on the lifeguard stand. If you’re at number 12, there’s also a lifeguard stand that would have warning flags. In between, there’s nothing, so it’s up to you to check,” she said.
Since lifeguard season with stands is over, Action News Jax was told only about 7 patrols were covering 12 miles Wednesday.
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