Coast Guard suspends search for missing swimmer off Long Beach

Posted: Updated:
LONG BEACH -

A 30-year-old man from Ireland went missing while swimming in Long Beach early Monday morning, police say.

After a night of drinking, a group of three adults went swimming around 2 a.m. in the water near Long Beach Boulevard and East Walnut Street, according to authorities. There were no lifeguards on duty at the time.

Only two of them made it back to shore.

Police have identified the victim as Neil Gibbons.

"When they felt they were being pulled out, they turned around and made it back to shore," says Paul Gillespie, Long Beach's chief lifeguard. "However that man in his 30s did not come out of the ocean."

Eight people have drowned at the same jetty over the years, authorities say. According to Gillespie, a combination of rough ocean water, a riptide and the lack of lifeguards on duty made the water especially dangerous.

The missing man was last seen wearing a beige swimsuit. He weighs about 170 pounds. Officials identified him as Neil Gibbons, a native of Ireland.

His disappearance prompted a large search effort by the Coast Guard, the Long Beach fire and police departments, the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department, the Nassau County Police Marine Bureau and the NYPD's aviation unit. A search plane from Boston also helped.

The Coast Guard suspended the search Monday night after 29 hours. His body has not yet been recovered.

The Coast Guard is urging swimmers to only swim when lifeguards are present.

Last week, a 10-year-old boy drowned in the surf off Long Beach. He had also gone swimming with no lifeguards on duty.

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