Authorities continue to search the waters off Atlantic City after two teenagers were pulled under late Thursday afternoon.
After suspending their search Thursday night around 10:30 p.m., Atlantic City officials say crews are undertaking a recovery mission Friday morning.
The search began around 6:30 p.m. Thursday when witnesses say they saw the riptides pull two people under the water at the Martin Luther King Blvd Jr. beach. Lifeguards had left at 6 p.m.
Multiple agencies arrived to search. After two hours, Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey declared the search become a recovery effort. Rescuers say the teens had already disappeared in the water by the time they arrived on the scene.
The Press of Atlantic City reports one of the swimmers, a teenage boy, was trying to rescue a 15-year-old girl, but both were pulled under the water by the rip currents.
The girl’s father, Dirk Spence, came to the beach Thursday night as rescuers were searching the waters.
“My heart goes to the family (of the boy),” Dirk Spence told The Press of Atlantic City. “That little guy was a hero. He will always be a hero in my book. It’s a tragedy. Let’s all come together, no matter good or bad, we can make it through.”
In Monmouth County’s Belmar, two young girls were pulled from the water around the same time the Atlantic City swimmers disappeared.
Both swimmers, cousins and local elementary school students, were taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. A young girl died, and another is in critical condition, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty told NJ.com Thursday night.
Doherty said Friday morning that a prayer service for both girls is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the borough’s Saint Rose.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.