The Coast Guard search for a Mansfield teenager who disappeared off Padre Island will not resume, pending further developments, a Coast Guard official said Sunday, but Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery is taking on the case.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Junior Lieutenant Shelly Brown said the search for the Lake Ridge High School student identified by NBC 5 as 16-year-old Carlos Perez ended at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into the suspension of the search,” Brown said Sunday. “We saturated the area with all the resources that we had, and talked to all the eyewitnesses.”
Perez’s case is listed on Texas Equusearch’s website as an active case, and the group has posted a flyer with phone numbers to call if someone spots the teen (877-270-9500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org). The nonprofit organization is a horseback-mounted search group that travels to help look for missing persons.
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Brown said the Coast Guard searched a total of 128 square nautical miles, and put 10 1/2 hours into the search, not including refueling and switching out crew members.
“We’ve exhausted the area where he was,” said Brown. “It’s not an easy decision.”
Corpus Christi police reported that they responded to a call at 10:50 a.m. Friday. Officers met a man who told them the teenager was playing off the Bob Hall Pier on Padre Island with friends and disappeared in the rough water.
Brown said the Coast Guard immediately launched a 65-foot rescue boat and an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter and put out an urgent marine information broadcast to alert mariners in the area.
The boat ended the search around 4 p.m. Friday because of choppy seas, and the helicopter came back around 8 that night.
Brown said the helicopter search resumed at sunrise Saturday, and the Padre Island National Seashore Rangers patrolled Padre Island’s beach. Corpus Christi police and fire departments also helped.
The search was suspended at around 4 p.m. Saturday. No boats were launched Saturday because of 5- to 7-foot waves with occasional 9- to 11-foot waves.
Erik Rios and Tomas Hoyos played on the JV soccer team last season with Perez. Star-Telegram media partner WFAA reported.
“I just saw him at school on Tuesday,” Rios told WFAA. “He’s probably the most hardworking person on the team.”
Friends have shared his photo on social media and gathered at school to pray for him, even as many begin to accept the worst.
“I got home [yesterday] and I started crying. Because I started thinking about him and realizing what was happening, and I burst out into tears,” Rios said.
“I’m scared that I’m not going to see him again,” said Hoyos.
Brown said that even though the search has been suspended, Coast Guard boats will still be “keeping a sharp eye out” whenever they’re launched.
Staff writer Judy Wiley contributed to this report.