Search Turns To Recovery For Missing 18-Year-Old In Laguna Beach

LAGUNA BEACH (CNS/FOX 11) - Lifeguards and firefighters resumed their search Monday for an 18-year-old man whose friends saw him go under water amid heavy surf in Laguna Beach, authorities said.

RELATED | Crews Search For Missing 18-Year-Old Swimmer Near Laguna Beach

The victim, shirtless and wearing black shorts, was last seen in the water off Thousand Steps Beach about 1:35 p.m. Sunday, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said.

Anthony Parnell was at the beach with three friends, Concialdi said.

Lifeguards searched until dark in boats as sheriff's and OCFA helicopter crews searched from the air for the missing teen, he said.

The search also involved ground-based Laguna Beach and OCFA firefighters Concialdi said.

Lifeguards continued to search dangerous territory south of Thousand Steps beach on land and in the water, said Jason Young, chief of the lifeguards.

The rocky landscape offers limited access along the coast line and lifeguards have had to navigate a "very dangerous section of coast line'' in the search, Young said.

The search will continue through the rest of the day, Young said.

A surf that is 5 to 8 feet was also hindering searchers, Young said.

The man's family has been summoned to Laguna Beach from Nevada, according to Concialdi, who said volunteers provided grief counseling to the victim's friends.

The parents -- Jennifer and Foster Parnell -- issued the following statement:

"Anthony was a wonderful human being. He was caring and very passionate. He loved his family and was incredibly close to his brothers.

He loved football, music and art. He was a wonderful athlete and he was looking forward to joining the military like his two older brothers. He had already signed up with the U.S. Army.

He loved to lie by the pool and he loved to cook. He respected his Centennial High coaches and he looked up to all of them.

In this very difficult time we ask that everyone respect our family and its privacy. Everyone out here (is) working very hard and we are so thankful for all of them, the fire department, the lifeguards, the Laguna Beach Police Department and the TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) volunteers.''

There were nine drowning deaths at Orange County beaches in 2014, Concialdi said.

"All avoidable,'' he said. "If (there are) treacherous waters, just look at them from a safe distance.''

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