First responders from the Coast Guard and SFPD are searching for two teenagers who went missing just after 4pm today, when a wave swept them into the water off Ocean Beach. According to eyewitnesses, five teenagers were wading near Seal Rock and the Cliff House when a wave knocked them off their feet and pulled them into the water.
Appears to be a rescue operation in progress at Ocean Beach. 2 teens stuck past the break. SFFD & USCG on scene. pic.twitter.com/T8rIyBS8Jf— Eddie Codel (@ekai) April 17, 2016
Three of the teens managed to make it to shore, but two were pulled past the break by riptides. The Chronicle reports that the teens were described by Coast Guard Lt. Marcia Media as "17-year-old non-swimmers." The trio who were rescued were transported to a hospital for treatment, with non-life-threatening injuries.
Officials from SFPD are setting up a mobile command center in a parking lot near Lincoln and Great Highway to manage search and rescue operations. Several vehicles are on-site, including a fully extended ladder truck topped by a spotter with binoculars, scanning the shoreline.
According to the SFPD scanner, rescuers will likely suspend their search around 7:30pm when the sun sets, but plan to remain on the scene until the teens are rescued or recovered. Officials are asking people to avoid the area.
Freak waves and riptides make Ocean Beach a dangerous place for waders and swimmers. Last September, four teenagers were rescued by a National Park Service patrol after getting caught in the beach's treacherous riptides. Two months after that, a 55-year-old man walking on the shore near Sutro Baths was rescued by firefighters after a large wave struck him, pulling him into the water. And just last month, SFPD rescue swimmers plucked a man in distress from the water off Noriega Street, in a nighttime rescue.
Several factors combine to make Ocean Beach dangerous for swimmers and waders: changing tide levels, the massive outflow of water from San Francisco Bay, and prevailing westerly winds and currents.
We'll continue to update this story when more news is available.
Update, 8:22pm: With the sun down, the search for the missing boys has been suspended.
Search for two 17-year-olds at Ocean Beach suspended at dark. "We're concerned with this case." Boys could not swim. pic.twitter.com/dbF4IDPp7C— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) April 17, 2016
Update, 8:58pm: Authorities say they do not plan to resume the search for the missing boys on Sunday. However, SFPD has also said that a rumor that the body of one of the boys was found at Lands End has "no merit."
“We offered to continue to have a presence,” a Fire Department rep said. “But the families were very understanding as to what has likely happened to their children.”
Update, 4/18, 8:40am: The teens have been identified as 17-year-old Wayne Ausa, and 16-year-old Grisham Duran. Both were students at Vallejo High School. Officials told KTVU that their bodies may never be found: strong currents could have carried them miles offshore by this point.
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