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Search for missing swimmer off Long Beach ends, Coast Guard says

Waters off Long Beach Boulevard where a swimmer

Waters off Long Beach Boulevard where a swimmer went missing on Monday in Long Beach. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The U.S. Coast Guard ended its search late Monday for a 30-year-old man who went swimming with friends off Long Beach and disappeared.

The man was identified as Neil Gibbons, a visitor from Ireland. His three friends made it safely to shore where they called 911, the Coast Guard said. Soon after, and for the second time in a week, a massive air, water and shore search began for a missing swimmer.

“After searching extensively throughout the night and daylight hours, in coordination with our partner agencies, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our search,” said Cmdr. Andrew Ely, chief of response, Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound.

The missing man was last seen about 50 to 100 yards from shore, off Long Beach Boulevard, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier, who warned swimmers to go out only when lifeguards are on duty.

The friends who made it to land had told authorities that “they searched for about 10 minutes before calling for assistance,” Long Beach Police Lt. Eric Cregeen said.

More than 650 miles was searched by helicopters from NYPD and Nassau, two Coast Guard planes from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Long Beach police and fire departments, Nassau police marine bureau and the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department.

The Coast Guard urges anyone who enters open water to wear a life jacket. The ocean, even near the shoreline, can be unpredictable and overtake even the strongest swimmer, officials said.

On Sunday, a child’s body was discovered about 12:30 p.m. in the waters off Lincoln Boulevard in Long Beach and officials were trying to determine whether it was the 10-year-old Hempstead boy who went missing while swimming last week.

Identification of the body will not be disclosed until the medical examiner has made an official determination, police said.

With Ellen Yan

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