Swimmer vanishes off OC coast, search is underway

Waves breaking on Sunset Beach.
Waves breaking on Sunset Beach.
David McNew/Getty Images

A search has resumed for a 26-year-old man from Long Beach who disappeared off the Orange County coastline after apparently being swept away by a powerful rip current.

The missing man, identified by the U.S. Coast Guard this morning as Jowayne Binford, was one of four young men who entered the water at Surfside Beach Wednesday evening in spite of a high surf advisory scheduled to remain in force until Friday night, according to Seal Beach police.

"After experiencing a strong rip current, the young men attempted to exit the water,'' said a Seal Beach Police Department statement, adding that only three of them made it.

The man who failed to return was last seen by lifeguards around 6 p.m., the Seal Beach statement said. He was about 200 yards offshore, between Sunset Beach and the northern entrance of Anaheim Bay, added a Coast Guard statement.

"The lifeguards reported seeing him in the water, and then not anymore,'' Coast Guard spokesman Trent Kelly said in a telephone interview.

He said the Seal Beach Police Department has made contact with the missing man's family.

Seal Beach Lifeguard Chief Joe Bailey told KCAL that the man "was on a body board. The body board washed ashore, so its a bad sign.''

Binford's disappearance triggered a response involving the Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriff's Department's Newport Harbor Patrol, Long Beach lifeguards and the Huntington Beach Police Department, which supplied a helicopter, the Coast Guard reported.

A Coast Guard helicopter in continuing the from above, and the agency's 87-foot cutter Narwhal plied the waters off Huntington Beach overnight amid swells of up to 10 feet, Kelly said.

A witness told KCAL that the man who disappeared and his friends entered the water even after they were warned by a lifeguard to stay close to the shore because the nearby lifeguard station was closing for the night.

The lifeguard "didn't order them out of the water. He said you need to stay close to the shore for your own safety,'' witness Mike Spainhower reported.