Coast Guard suspends search for missing man near Ocean City, New Jersey

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Search underway for missing swimmer in Ocean City, New Jersey
The search continues for a swimmer who went missing off Ocean City, New Jersey on Sunday night.

OCEAN CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search on Monday night for the missing swimmer who was last seen in the area of the Ocean City Longport Bridge.

Jabed Ikbal, 24, of Clementon, N.J. went missing on Sunday evening.

Coast Guard helicopters flew over the Great Egg Harbor Inlet where Ikbal went missing on Monday. After searching more than 82 square miles for over 21 hours, officials were unable to locate him.

Action News spoke with the young man's family Monday on-site and they are praying that their son and brother will be found.

"They're still there searching. We hope our Allah maybe can return him safely. Still we are hoping that," said Ikbal's older brother, Mohammed Khalil.

Khalil said Ikbal and several family members came here to swim on Sunday night when they got caught in the inlet's strong current. He says Ikbal tried to save a 16-year-old relative who was struggling.

"One big wave come. They are both together. He was not able to save himself. But he saved my niece" said Khalil.

RELATED: 18-year-old high school graduate dies saving 2 swimmers off Ventnor, New Jersey beach

Signs are posted warning that this beach at the base of the Ocean City Longport Bridge is not guarded, and that currents are strong. Beach patrol officials say even on a calm day swimming here is dangerous.

"You could be a very experienced swimmer - even a very experienced ocean swimmer - and you will not be able to beat the pull of a tidal current in an inlet," said Beach Patrol Chief Mark Jamieson.

This was not the only search at the shore over the weekend.

Coast Guard officials say Jalan Alston, 18, saved two friends from the ocean in Ventnor, N.J. on Friday evening, but wasn't able to save himself. The body of the recent high school grad from Brooklyn, N.Y. was found Saturday evening.

Officials at the beach say while many are turning to the shore for a bit of normalcy during the pandemic - they urge people to be careful.

"Our biggest statement is to swim at a lifeguarded beach at lifeguarded hours," said Jamieson.

The chief also says as hard as this may be, call 911 right away and keep an eye on the victim, rather than going in after someone who is struggling.

"If you ever see someone who's in distress call 911 and be a visual rescuer so that the rescuers can actually come in and you don't end up being a victim yourself," said Jamieson.