Vigilant family members of an 18-year-old swimmer missing since Wednesday and presumed drowned helped locate the young man’s body at Abalone Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes on Sunday, authorities said.
Special divers from the sheriff’s department had been searching daily in the water near Inspiration Point for Joseph Sanchez of Long Beach, who was thought to have drowned while cliff jumping with friends.
The body was located about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher Art Marrujo. The county coroner’s office confirmed it was that of Sanchez.
During the search, Sanchez’s family members watched the recovery mission from the top of Inspiration Point, with a sheriff’s chaplain on hand for support, according to the sheriff’s department.
On Sunday, their vigil helped lead to the discovery of their loved one’s body.
“Members of the family began screaming from Inspiration Point saying there’s somebody in the water,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. David Rozas told ABC7. “Deputies and other personnel ran down there and sure enough found somebody floating face down in the channel at Inspiration Point.”
Divers had been scouring a cave with poor visibility in search of Sanchez, authorities said.
Sanchez got into trouble Wednesday in the surging waters and was pulled onto some rocks by a friend, Toogee Zepeda, who then went to find help. When Zepeda returned, Sanchez was missing.
The search operation began at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said in addition to the divers, several helicopters and six boats have patrolled the surf along the shore in search of the missing man.
The underwater search was conducted by divers from the Sheriff’s Emergency Services Bureau, part of the Special Enforcement Bureau, in the area where Sanchez was last seen, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Thomas Giandomenico.
The search was a challenge because waves entering the cave create a current, he said.
The aerial search included caves and coves from San Pedro to Malibu, he said.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, several other rescues were made in the same general area, where jumping into a tidal pool known as Sacred Cove is popular.
Public access to the area, including Inspiration Point and Portuguese Point, was restricted until sundown Sunday.