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Swimmer missing in OC amid high surf advisory

September 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The search has been called off for a swimmer who went missing in high surf off of Surfside Beach near Huntington Beach.

Jowayne Binford, 24, of Long Beach, went missing around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Binford and three friends were body boarding, and they went into the surfline near the area of Anderson Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

After experiencing a strong rip current, the men attempted to get out of the water, but only three of them made it safely to the shore.

The search for Binford began within minutes. The Coast Guard and rescue boats from Newport Beach and Long Beach as well as a helicopter from the Huntington Beach Police Department helped with the search.

Officials said lifeguards warned the men about the conditions Wednesday night.

"A lifeguard warned them, and said, 'Hey, we have strong currents. You guys should probably get out of the water. We're going to be off duty soon,'" said Seal Beach Lifeguard Chief Joe Bailey.

The crews continued searching the waters Thursday morning. They called off the search in the afternoon.

Binford has a 9-month-old and his family members are very concerned. Binford's mother, Gail, spent hours at Surfside Beach, looking at the strong surf where her son was last seen.

"He's not even a beach person. He's not even into beach water," she said.

The Binford family thanks the search team for their efforts, but they're frustrated with the people Binford was swimming with.

"I think that's messed up. Three guys that left him in the damn water. You know, that's not a friend," said Gail Binford. "I think they should've been here. They haven't called me yet."

The waves were expected to be even higher on Thursday. They're expected to reach up to nine feet, with sets up to 11 feet. The surf will gradually subside over the weekend.

Waves were so big in some coastal towns that they flooded streets and parking lots on Wednesday.

"There were a couple of cars that we saw that got pushed about 12 feet away from the wall. The water was just pouring and pouring over," said beachgoer Stu Laurie.

If you are caught in a rip current, lifeguards said the best thing to do is to swim parallel to the shore. Go sideways, and when feel that you are out of the strong pull, make your turn and head for the shore. They said you should try to remain calm.

See photos of the flood damage at the Balboa Pier parking lot.


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