Emergency personnel have for a young man who disappeared into the surf Wednesday afternoon off the O Street beach.
Seaside Park lifeguards are on full-time duty today, just one day after Bestavros Faris, 18, Bayonne, went into the water off the unguarded beach with three other friends around 3 p.m. All four got into trouble, but Faris was the only one who didn't make it back to shore, Patrolman Steven Shadiack said.
A resident who lives on O Street saw the four youths on the beach before the incident occurred, Shadiack said.
"He watched them on the beach for a short time," he said. "One stayed ankle-deep. The others went from ankle-deep to waist-high, then chest-high. The wave came. Three went under the water and only two came up. That's how fast it was. It didn't take long to have a tragedy like this."
Police Chief Francis Larkin ordered the beaches closed during the overnight hours. Emergency responders drove up and down the oceanfront to keep people off the beaches and "have somebody there for him" in case Faris' body washed up, Shadiack said.
The beach patrol search ended at 8 a.m. But the Coast Guard still has several boats offshore and lifeguards are in their stands and keeping watch, he said.
Seaside Park beaches are open and guarded today. The opening day for full-time lifeguards was scheduled months ago and had nothing to do with yesterday's incident, Shadiack said.
"Most of the lifeguards are teachers," he said. "The earliest available date was today."
A number of emergency personnel responded Wednesday, including the Coast Guard, State Police, Seaside Park and Seaside Heights fire departments and the Seaside Heights Beach Patrol.
Police Chief Francis Larkin said rip currents had been especially strong yesterday.
"It's very unusual for this time of year," Larkin said Wednesday. "It's usually September when we see this."
Rescue personnel yesterday conducted a grid search, walking slowly through the water five feet a time, moving north toward Seaside Heights. The search was suspended shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Rip currents kept emergency responders busy at several locations in Seaside Park yesterday. Between 8 to ten people had to be rescued, authorities said.
The four young men involved in yesterday's incident are all from Bayonne and were down for the day, Shadiack said.