The Coast Guard and local rescuers suspended the search for 15-year-old Naisere Nelson of Neptune Township on Friday. He was one of three swimmers who got caught in the current Thursday night in Bradley Beach. The others were rescued by beachgoers.
Bradley Beach Police Chief Len Guida says more than 100 rescuers scoured the area Thursday night and Friday morning before the Coast Guard called off the search.
Lifeguards were not on the beach Thursday. They are scheduled to begin full-time shifts next Wednesday.
Guida said police received a call at 5:37 p.m. reporting the swimmers in trouble. Two of them, adults from Elizabeth, were helped to shore by others by the time police arrived. But Nelson was nowhere to be found.
"I don't have to tell you how hot it was yesterday," he said. "We had thousands of people on the beach, and we had trouble all day because of rip currents."
Although the three swimmers were in the same general area, the two adults did not know Nelson, the chief said.
Relatives and friends of Nelson who skipped school Friday to support the family lined the beach, watching silently as a half-dozen wet suit-clad divers bobbed in the surf between a Coast Guard patrol boat and the shoreline. Overhead, an orange Coast Guard helicopter flew up and down the shore.
"He liked to play around," said Xavier Burrus, a classmate at Neptune High School, where Nelson played football and basketball. "He was always smiling. He loved to make people laugh."
"You just can't be mad at him," added Shakeith Campbell, another friend. "He always had a smile on his face."
A group of teenagers picked flowers growing near the beach and laid them on the sand in tribute to their missing friend Friday morning.