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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Teenager Drowns When Caught by Riptide off Newport Beach

May 19, 2000

NEWPORT BEACH — A 17-year-old drowned Thursday when a rip current pulled him more than 250 yards from shore near Newport Beach Pier, authorities said.

Two other swimmers who were with him barely managed to swim back, said Randy Scheerer, a battalion chief for the Newport Beach Fire Department.

Divers and rescuers aboard a Sheriff's Department boat began searching for the missing teen at 2:30 p.m. and continued for more than two hours.

His body washed ashore just after 4:30 p.m., Scheerer said.

The victim, a student at Santa Ana Valley High School, was not identified, pending notification of relatives.

Authorities attribute most beach drownings to rip currents. When water collides at the shore, it can create a strong force, like a river, and pull a swimmer hundreds of yards from the shore.

Authorities said swimmers caught in a rip current should swim parallel to the shore until they are out of the rip, then swim directly toward the sand.

A second drowning occurred in Orange County hours later, when a 6-year-old boy was found unconscious in an apartment swimming pool in Anaheim.

Four police officers tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the boy, fire officials said.

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