Missing teen caught in rip, swept out to sea
GRAVE fears are held for a teenage boy who went missing after getting into difficulty while wading at a South Australian beach.
The 17-year-old Victorian boy and his friend - a 20-year-old foreign national - encountered trouble off Parsons Beach, near Waitpinga on SA's south coast, just after 12.30pm on Tuesday.
Police said they believed the pair was hit by a wave and then pulled out to sea by a rip.
They were at the beach with a father and his 17-year-old son, who witnessed the incident.
The quartet had been fishing at the beach since the early hours of the morning.
As the day got hotter, the two friends went wading into the water, leaving behind the father and son.
Police said the mates got into trouble near the rocky outcrop at the southern end of the beach.
The 20-year-old managed to swim to shore and the father leapt into the ocean to try to save the struggling 17-year-old.
The father then started to struggle and had to be saved by a surfer, who helped him back to shore. Police are still trying to identify the surfer.
Emergency services launched a search, with land and sea patrols performing grid searches across the area, while a helicopter scanned the beach and ocean.
Family and friends of the missing boy waited anxiously for news of the search, gathering near the makeshift emergency services command post.
The father was in shock, while a female friend could be heard sobbing as she was comforted by another man.
A cordon was set up around fishing rods, which remained on the rocks where the four men were fishing.
The search ended about 9pm Tuesday night and resumed at 6am this morning.
Victor Harbor CIB detective Sergeant Carl Whitacker said other people, including small children, were in the water at the time of the incident.
"It's the sea and it can present serious challenges," Sgt Whitacker said. "Of the four people in this case, we know at least two had been to this beach numerous times before.
"This is a search for a missing person, not a body, and we hope to find him and are searching regardless."
Local woman Felicity was one of the first people to join in the search.
"I had been at the beach with my kids and I saw a couple of police searching the rocks," she said.
"I asked whether they had searched the beach yet and went down there and found their clothes. That was when one of them came out of the water and went past me."
Melissa David-Bishop from Surf Life Saving said Parsons Beach is a "very treacherous area".
"Even very skilled and experienced swimmers can get into trouble down there," she said.
The search operation has already proved to be dangerous, as a search volunteer was reportedly injured on Tuesday after he got stuck in a cave about 7.30pm.
Almost 10 years ago to the day, swimmer Brett Perry saved the lives of two teenagers and a 34-year-old man off neighbouring Waitpinga Beach. However, a 48-year-old man, the father of one of the teens, could not be saved and drowned.