A boy and his friend got caught in the rip current and went under a rock pile while he tried to save her in the ocean off the Atlantic City beach Thursday night.
The search for 16-year-old Kaliyah 'Kiki' Hand and 15-year-old Ramon Quinn was called off Friday with no signs of either child.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said lifeguards had gone home for the day at 6 p.m. Thursday before the teens entered the water. He said it appeared rescuers were unable to "save the children."
"Our prayers go out to the families that have lost two wonderful children," Guardian said at a Friday morning news conference on the boardwalk.
Search crews used jet skis and others waded near some rocks as they searched for the teens in the water off Martin Luther King Boulevard beach Friday morning. At 11 a.m., the Coast Guard officially called off its search.
"We would like to extend our sympathies to the families and loved ones affected during this very difficult time," said Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay Commander Capt. Benjamin Cooper said.
Atlantic City Beach Patrol said the teens were reported missing around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. First responders arrived within two minutes and found no signs of the teens.
Family members who watched the search from the beach Friday identified one victim as Kiki, an Atlantic City High School student, and the second teen as Ramon of Pleasantville.
The teens are not related.
After two hours, Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey said the search became a recovery effort. The fire department, Coast Guard and state police were all dispatched to help in the search. Crews scanned the water for hours, but had not found them late Thursday before calling off the search around 10 p.m.
The Coast Guard remained on the scene through the night. Crews resumed their search in the water after daybreak Friday as they battled changing tides and rough conditions, officials said before calling off the search.