Divers Step Up Search For 18-Year-Old Swept Away Off Laguna Beach

LAGUNA BEACH (CNS/FOX 11) - With Thursday's lower tides, Orange County authorities were able to step up their search for the body of an 18-year-old near Thousand Steps beach in Laguna Beach, but the effort was called off this afternoon when nothing was found, authorities said.

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A calmer ocean allowed divers to get into areas they couldn't since Sunday when Anthony Parnell was swept away, according to Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

"They're diving around the rocks, out in the perimeter of the rocks,'' Hallock said. "They're also in the cove where he was last seen and fell.''

The divers today also were able to use a remote camera deposited into the ocean to help with the search, Hallock said.

The hope was the camera would show if the body was trapped under the rocks and not washed out into the ocean, Hallock said.

"Conditions are a little bit better today,'' he said. "The tide is still a little difficult, but it's a much lower tide today.''

The search included 10 lifeguards, three Orange County sheriff's personnel from the department's harbor patrol unit, an Orange County Parks ranger and a cadaver dog and its handler, according to Jason Young, chief of the county's lifeguards.

"Our efforts came up empty today, but we did do an extensive search until 3 p.m.,'' Young said. "We searched an area from Aliso Beach to Salt Creek, which is pretty much all of south Laguna.''

Though the official search has been called off the area is staffed daily with lifeguards on patrol and they will be "vigilantly'' looking for the body, Young said.

Parnell was last seen in the water off Thousand Steps Beach with three friends about 1:35 p.m. Sunday, Concialdi said.

Parnell's parents -- Jennifer and Foster Parnell -- were summoned from Las Vegas and were present for today's search. They said their son had just signed up for the U.S. Army and loved football music and art.

With the three-day weekend coming up, officials warned residents to be careful around the water, Young said.

"It's a busy holiday weekend coming up so we want people to check with a lifeguard before going into the water, and if there's no lifeguard present, please use extreme caution. Stay out of the water and stay off of the rocks,'' Young said.

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