Two teenagers who went missing Thursday night off the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard beach were still not found as of Monday morning, said Kevin Fair, Public Information Officer at the Atlantic City Police Department.
The entire beach has been combed by land and sea by Beach Patrol personnel looking for Kaliy-ah Hand, 16, of Atlantic City, and Ramon Quinn, 15, of Pleasantville, Downey said.
The fire department has been continuing land patrols at night.
The Ventnor, Margate and Longport beach patrols were alerted Thursday night into Friday morning and contact has been maintained with them, but they had no sightings of either teen Sunday.
A State Police K9 and dive team examined both the jetty and rockpile, said Steve Downey, Atlantic City Beach Patrol chief.
Seventy-five Atlantic City beach patrol members were on duty Sunday and 60 will be working Monday, Downey said. Because it was busy and hot offshore Sunday, Downey said, the beach patrol worked until at least 7 p.m. at the uptown beaches, he said.
The winds blew from the northeast from Thursday through Saturday, but Sunday, the winds were southernly, Downey said.
— Vincent Jackson
11:30 a.m.: Emergency personnel continued their search Saturday for two teenagers who went missing off the Martin Luther King beach Thursday night.
State Police used a dive team to search for Kaliy-ah Hand, 16, of Atlantic City, and Ramon Quinn, 15, of Pleasantville, this morning, Atlantic City police Sgt. Kevin Fair said Saturday.
The two teens were with a larger group of friends swimming in the water after lifeguards had gone off duty Thursday evening when a rip current pulled Hand in. Quinn attempted to rescue his friend, but was also pulled into the water, officials said.
"The local beach patrols have been notified to keep a watch," Fair said. "ACPD will continue to check from the shoreline."
— Nicholas Huba
8:30 a.m.: Emergency personnel will continue their search Saturday morning for two teenagers that went missing off the Martin Luther King beach Thursday night.
Family and friends of Kaliy-ah Hand, 16, of Atlantic City, and Ramon Quinn, 15, of Pleasantville, kept watch as emergency personnel restarted the search.
The two teens were with a larger group of friends swimming in the water after lifeguards had gone off-duty Thursday evening when a rip current pulled Hand in. Quinn attempted to rescue his friend, but was also pulled into the water, officials said.
— Nicholas Huba
ATLANTIC CITY — The families of two missing Atlantic County teens sat on the beach Friday afternoon together, looking toward the rough sea and thick fog towering above it.
They were hoping for some peace after a beach day Thursday turned tragic.
Thursday evening, after lifeguards had left the beach, friends Kaliy-ah Hand, 16, of Atlantic City, and Ramon Quinn, 15, of Pleasantville, went for a swim with friends at the beach at Martin Luther King Boulevard.
The group returned to shore, but Kaliy-ah and Ramon were pulled into the ocean. They had not been found as of Friday evening.
“I’m fighting back my emotions,” said Dirk Spence, 45, of Atlantic City, who was at the beach waiting to hear about his daughter. “The only thing I want now is the sea to give her back.”
A call came in at 6:27 p.m. Thursday that two swimmers were in the ocean and struggling, police Sgt. Kevin Fair said Friday.
Spence, who said Friday the past day had been “like walking into a tunnel,” couldn’t help but be thankful for Ramon’s actions.
The Pleasantville High School student tried to help Atlantic City High School’s Kaliy-ah, but he got pulled further toward the jetty, too, according to witnesses who talked to police and family.
After a struggle, both were pulled out by the current.
“He risked his life trying to save a young girl,” said Ramon’s stepfather, Will Black, of Atlantic City, who waited with family on the Boardwalk. “The current was too strong.”
“They raised a good kid, a hero,” Spence said of Ramon. “There are not too many kids that would do that.”
The families of the two children formed small, separate groups.
They hugged each other; some sobbed or tried to catch their breath. Some consoled each other with nearby police chaplains, all trying to make sense of what had happened the night before.
Ramon and Kaliy-ah played large roles in their own families. Both recently lost their mothers — Ramon’s mom died in 2014, his family members said, and Kaliy-ah’s mom died in January, Spence said.
Kaliy-ah was outgoing, funny and loving, said her cousin, Thomas Belcher, 31. Ramon loved being with his family and had an “unforgettable smile,” said his sister, Arshata Matos, 23.
As Matos was describing her brother, family joined in to describe Ramon, especially his sense of humor and “good laugh.”
“He was like the man of the house,” Matos said, noting he had six siblings. “He was so overprotective of us.”
Spence, who lives in Venice Park, said Kaliy-ah has several brothers and sisters and friends who miss her greatly.
“She just loved life,” said Kaliy-ah’s grandmother, Shirldine Stewart, 66, of Atlantic City. “She loved the beach, which was what she did.”
Rescuers were searching until after 10 p.m. Thursday while about 100 people waited on the beach to hear an update.
Rip currents have been prevalent along the coast this week, and authorities have urged caution.
On Thursday in Monmouth County, a girl drowned and another girl was on life support after being pulled from the water in Belmar.
Beach patrols warn bathers not to swim at unprotected beaches.
“Danger: Rip currents. Please swim during lifeguard hours only,” a sign along the path to Martin Luther King beach read.
Two hours into the search Thursday, Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey said the rescue effort became a recovery effort.
The scope of the search had expanded Friday to more than 2 miles — from the Kentucky Avenue to Jackson Avenue near Ventnor. Fair said beach patrols in Ventnor, Margate and Longport were on alert as well.
The search was suspended for about four hours as thick fog and rough waters subsided. It resumed at 3 p.m. Friday.
Downey said depending on the ocean conditions, swimmer safety can change quickly and drastically. The beach at Martin Luther King Boulevard has a jetty nearby and a rock pile, which can make navigating currents risky. The teens were swimming just before the 7 p.m. Thursday tide-change.
“This particular situation was against the rock pile,” Downey said. “We’ll keep going until we find these young kids.”
In June 2012, rescuers searched the same area for Khitan Devine, a 10-year-old boy who disappeared in the water. Then-Fire Chief Dennis Brooks called it “the worst spot” on the Atlantic City beach.
Devine’s body washed up in Margate three days later.
The search for the teens involved police, firefighters and beach patrol, the Coast Guard, State Police and the Brigantine Dive Team.
Rescuers used boats, helicopters and swimmers on surfboards to search the ocean, although the fog got too thick Friday afternoon and the ocean too rough, which suspended the search.
“We would like to extend our sympathies to the families and loved ones affected during this very difficult time,” Capt. Benjamin Cooper, commander, Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, wrote in a statement.
Mayor Don Guardian and Third Ward Councilman Kaleem Shabazz consoled the teens’ families Friday on the Boardwalk and offered prayers.
Shabazz said it was the “saddest day since I’ve been in office.” Guardian echoed the sentiment.
The tragedy caught the attention of passersby and beach tourists. Many stopped to find out what happened or returned seeking an update.
Steve Michels came to the Boardwalk Friday morning with his two daughters, ages 12 and 13, for an update. They were staying at Bally’s Atlantic City during their visit from Delaware when the news broke about the missing teens.
“It’s a shame,” he said.
ATLANTIC CITY — City officials identified the two swimmers pulled into the ocean off the coast of an Atlantic City beach Thursday.
Kaliy-ah Hand, 16, of Atlantic City, was struggling in the water when Ramon Quinn, 15, of Pleasantville tried to help her, Sgt. Kevin Fair said. The rip currents pulled them both out to sea Thursday.
“At this point, Ms. Hand and Mr. Quinn have not been located,” Fair said Friday afternoon.
Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey said the conditions and change of the tide Thursday proved dangerous, and there were still rip currents in the ocean on Friday afternoon, making the search difficult.
"We'll keep going until we find these young kids," Downey said.
Mayor Don Guardian and Third Ward Councilman Kaleem Shabazz came to the beach Friday afternoon to express their condolences and prayers to the family and to give an update.
“This is really the saddest day since I’ve been in office,” Shabazz said.
Dirk Spence of Atlantic City watched Thursday night as emergency crews searched for his daughter and another teen boy. He said he returned to the beach at 7:30 a.m. Friday.
He identified his daughter as Hand. Another family member told The Press of Atlantic City on Thursday night that her last name was Spence. The name of the boy was not released by authorities.
The teen girl and the teen boy were reported missing around 6:30 p.m. off the beach at Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey said.
The teens had not been located as of Friday morning.
Rescue teams remained in the water throughout the night at Martin Luther King Blvd beach in Atlantic City. Some boats and jet-skis out in the water for search.
As rescuers searched Thursday night for his 15-year-old daughter, Dirk Spence called another missing swimmer "a hero".
“My heart goes to the family (of the boy),” Dirk Spence told The Press of Atlantic City as he watched the search for his daughter.
“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.”
The search began shortly after 6:30 p.m. Thursday after witnesses reported seeing two people struggling in the water, Downey said.
The rip current pulled one teen, later identified as Hand, under the water, and the unidentified boy was pulled under when he went looking for Spence.
Mayor Don Guardian arrived at 7:30 p.m. to watch the rescue effort.
“This is a tough beach. The undercurrent is very rough,” Guardian said.
About two hours into the search, Downey said, “At this point it’s a recovery.”
NJ.com reports a second water rescue incident took place Thursday night, in Belmar in Monmouth County. A local girl drowned and another girl was on life support after being pulled from the water, the report says.
The beach patrol, the Coast Guard, and city police and firefighters used boats, helicopters and swimmers on surfboards to search the ocean. The Brigantine Dive Team responded from Brigantine, police Sgt. Kevin Fair said.
Rescuers were still searching at 9 p.m. Thursday.
The Coast Guard and State Police Marine Bureau continued searching Thursday night using boats with lights on them. The Atlantic City Fire Department and beach patrol will continue their search at daybreak, Downey said.
The search began after emergency calls from witnesses who said two swimmers were in the ocean and appeared to be in distress, Downey said. The beaches were not guarded at the time, he said.
Downey said witnesses reported the teen girl was in the water and the teen boy went out to help.
As many as 100 people were on the beach watching as rescuers searched.
“The beach patrol left at 6 p.m. Normally we don’t have people going back in the water. It was a cool day. It was windy, (and) the water was cold," Guardian said.
Guardian said that the rescuers never once saw the victims when they arrived on the scene.
Guardian said this is usually not the time of year that people go swimming after hours, but a group of kids went into the water after the lifeguards left at 6. p.m.
In 2012, rescuers searched for Khitan Devine, a 10-year-old boy who disappeared while swimming off Atlantic City. Khitan went missing off the beach at Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, which then-Fire Chief Dennis Brooks called “the worst spot” on the Atlantic City beach.