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Vigil for boy who disappeared while swimming off Long Beach

Two young girls embrace each other while family

Two young girls embrace each other while family and friends of the 10-year-old Hempstead boy who vanished in the Long Beach surf Wednesday, gathered at the beach for a vigil, Thursday evening, June 21, 2018. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Standing on a stretch of sand in Long Beach, friends and family of the 10-year-old boy who vanished in the surf during a swim with his brother this week lit candles and released balloons in his honor.

More than 100 people gathered at a vigil for the boy, who disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean Tuesday when he and his 11-year-old brother were swimming near Ocean Beach Park, off Edwards Boulevard. The two became separated just before 6 p.m. as the waters got choppy, Long Beach police have said.

The boys, who had taken a bus by themselves to the beach, were apparently trying to leave when the currents pulled one of them away, police said.

“We’re here for hope because we have belief that he’s going to be found,” said a man who identified himself as the father of the missing boy. “This is my child. Whatever it takes to get my child back, that’s what’s going to happen.”

The group gathered on the boardwalk, some carrying green balloons — symbolizing what they said was the color of hope — and walked to the beach, where a pastor led members in prayer.

Several people spoke in support of the grieving family, including Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan.

“This is a difficult time,” he said. “And your prayer and all your thoughts and your presence mean an awful lot to the family.”

A round-the-clock search for the boy was called off Wednesday by the U.S. Coast Guard and Long Beach authorities.

A spokesman for the Nassau County police department said its Marine Bureau and Aviation units are “assigned” to search the area during the day, weather and sea conditions permitting.

“The Police Department did not call off the search and we are still searching for the victim along the inner beach line and off shore areas,” Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said.

A man who identified himself as the boy’s grandfather stood at the water’s edge Thursday and looked out into the vast ocean.

“I am just looking at the water, wondering where he’s at,” the man said.

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