Crews search for missing swimmer off coast of Manhattan Beach

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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Friends and family of a missing swimmer gathered at Manhattan Beach as crews frantically searched the waters.

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A swimmer vanished off the coast of Manhattan Beach as rescue crews frantically searched to find him Tuesday evening.

Officials said the 25-year-old Hawthorne man disappeared in the ocean near 18th Street at about 5 p.m.

Los Angeles County lifeguards said the man was swimming with two friends about 50 yards off shore.

"The friends stated that they could swim, the friends were able to make it in and lost sight of their friend," Lidia Barillas, a Los Angeles County lifeguard said.

The friends told lifeguards they didn't see the man struggle and hadn't realized he'd gone under the water until several minutes later.

Lifeguards said there were strong lateral currents and rip currents Tuesday evening.

"Even on those beautiful, pretty days it can be dangerous," Barillas explained.

As crews in helicopters and boats searched the water for hours, friends and family members gathered on shore in disbelief.

"We won't accept it, at all, until we see it," friend Edwin Rivas said.

Family and friends identified the man as D.J., but did not give his last name.

"D.J. was like the awesomest dude I've ever met. I just don't even know," Rivas said as he held back his emotions.

The rescue operation was eventually suspended and officials said the search was scheduled to resume at first light Wednesday morning.