Three swimmers rescued on Galveston, one drowns

A Coast Guard helicopter and boat are searching for a missing swimmer off Galveston's beach

June 3, 2011 4:13:07 AM PDT
On undeniably hot days, the Gulf seems refreshing and inviting. But for the second time in two weeks, a trip to the beach has ended in tragedy.

Investigators say about 80 percent of the drowning that occurs out there are because of rip currents, but they say it wasn't the case with the tragedy that happened Thursday when the water was calm.

For several hours, swimmers on Galveston Beach watched emergency workers search for the body of a man who drowned.

"Wow it's happened again," witness Mack Guidry said.

This time, the victim is Sugar Land resident and 21-year-old Faiz Almoni, the third person to drown there this season.

"We saw the group out there swimming. There were two groups just sitting there diving back and forth," Guidry said.

Almoni was in the water off the Seawall near 45th Street with three high school friends from the Houston area. Investigators say they were about 35 yards from the shore, which is a little far out but still within the legal swimming limits.

"None of them were good swimmers. A couple of them said they couldn't swim and they were out pretty far," said Peter Davis with Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

Witnesses say Almoni and his friends were chest and neck deep in water when something went wrong.

"They had two of them out there waving and one a little farther out there swimming, trying to look for him," Guidry said.

A lifeguard and a bystander rushed to rescue three women. Almoni went under water.

"We think probably they stepped off a sand bar into a deeper area. There was some panic and climbing on top of each other," Davis said.

Almoni's family gathered at the shore, waiting and watching the recovery efforts. But as of late Thursday night, emergency crews hadn't been able to locate the man's body.

Investigators say they will be checking the shoreline for the man's body throughout the night, and they'll continue the recovery efforts Friday morning.

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