Police identified a 19-year-old man who went missing in the ocean off the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey, earlier this week.
On Tuesday at 4:10 p.m., Wildwood Police received a 911 call for swimmers in distress near the beach along Andrews Avenue.
Police arrived at the scene and spotted two swimmers about 100 to 200 yards from the shore. Responding Wildwood firefighters rescued the two swimmers. They also learned a third swimmer managed to exit the water before they arrived.
A fourth swimmer, identified as 19-year-old Alfred WIlliams of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, was still missing however.
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Firefighters re-entered the water and began searching for Williams while Wildwood Police detectives and members of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office interviewed a witness and the two swimmers who were rescued.
North Wildwood Police, Wildwood Crest Police, North Wildwood firefighters, the U.S. Coast Guard, the New Jersey State Police Marine Division and several off-duty lifeguards also joined the search.
After an extensive search effort, the rescuers were unable to find Williams. Wildwood Police said Thursday that the investigation has become a recovery mission.
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"The Wildwood Police & Fire Departments and other assisting agencies would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Alfred's family and friends," a Wildwood Police spokesperson wrote. "The public is reminded that they should only enter the ocean when lifeguards are on duty!"
No lifeguards are available on the beach during the week, according to Wildwood Fire Department Chief Ernie Troiano III. Troiano warned people to never swim in the water if no lifeguards are available. He also advised anyone caught in a rip current to swim parallel to the ocean, not towards the shore.
"Whether you're a good swimmer or not, if the beach is not guarded, do not go into the ocean," Troiano said. "You want to get your feet wet? You want to go maybe up to your knees? That's it."