Social media spurs interest in deadly points off Abalone Cove Beach in Rancho Palos Verdes

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Divers searched for a second day without success for a swimmer who went missing off the coast of Abalone Cove Beach in Rancho Palos Verdes Thursday.

L.A. County officials have shut down two points that have been the scene of dozens of rescues and at least one death in the last four days. 

The Associated Press reports: 

The man went missing about 3 p.m. Wednesday. County fire and U.S. Coast Guard rescuers searched for him until sheriff's divers took over in the evening.

Friends of the missing man say they were jumping into the choppy water when he started yelling for help. They helped him get to a rock but he was swept by a wave.

The Los Angeles Times has identified the man as Joseph Sanchez, 18, of Long Beach. He's believed to have drowned. If so, it will be the second death in the area since Sunday.

On Sunday, emergency crews assisted in 19 rescues and three airlifts.  Another six rescues took place on Monday, and another five on Tuesday. 

"It's been a very tragic and very hectic four days here," Rancho Palos Verdes mayor Jerry Duhovic told KPCC.  He said the missing swimmer spoke with a ranger, who advised him and his friends to avoid the area. They went anyhow.

"What makes it so attractive is that these are beautiful  caves in two points. Portuguese Point and Inspiration Point, right next to Abalone Cove Beach," he said. "There are actually caves in the faces of these points and tide pools around there that look very very inviting. [They] don't appear to be dangerous, but they are very treacherous. There's jagged rocks everywhere. There're unpredictable tides and swells and surges that come through there and knock people around."

Duhovic says that although the city can't shut down access to the cove, the county can and will, at least until Sunday. The city will also be posting more aggressive signage in the area.

"We as a city don't have the authority to shut down the beach, but the L.A. County lifeguard does," he said. "And they're going to invoke a provision that will shut down these two points near Abolone Cove there where the incidents have occurred and close it through late Sunday early evening."

Popular on social media

Abolone Cove Beach and its tide pools have been growing in popularity, largely due to posts on Youtube, Twitter and Instagram, Duhovic said. 

"It seems to be a rash in the last handful of months of kids communicating with each other saying 'hey come do this cliff diving. There's a big pool and all these different things.'"

Strong swells and tides have earned the area the nickname "the washing machine" online, Duhovic said. 

"They go in there and get tossed around and apparently find some thrills in doing that," he said.

Video: Abalone Cove on Youtube

The reality is that strong riptides can make it very difficult to get back out of the water:

Video: Abalone Cove danger

Duhovic said the two points will remain closed at least until Sunday evening "And then we'll reassess where we go from there," he added.

This story has been updated.

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