Beachgoers warned to watch for rip currents

May 27, 2013 4:40:23 PM PDT
Beach Patrol officials in Galveston are warning swimmers about the conditions in the water after several people went missing in San Luis Pass over the holiday weekend.

It's been a dangerous weekend on the water across southeast Texas. From area lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, lifeguards are watching for swimmers. Three remain missing after disappearing in the water over the weekend. The latest swimmers to disappear were a father and his 10-year-old son who struggled in the surf near San Luis Pass. Beach goers are being advised to be on alert.

There are signs posted all over San Luis Pass Park to stay out of the water, but many people continue to enjoy the holiday as if nothing tragic has happened this weekend.

"It is very dangerous to swim here" -- that is the warning issued in English and Spanish by the Galveston beach patrol. They are one of several agencies working in San Luis Pass Park after rip currents pulled three swimmers under the water.

"This area bottlenecks so there's a whole lot of tidal flow that comes through here," said Peter Davis with the Galveston Beach Patrol "It will carve out ledges and it makes really strong currents that push offshore. You don't want to swim in an area like this."

Coast Guard Commanding Officer T.J. Malvesti with the Freeport station explained, "Currently have a Coast Guard helicopter on scene, boats from the Coast Guard and other local agencies such as Brazoria County and the Galveston Police Department, and a handful of good Samaritans who are all aiding in the search effort (for the father and son)."

The Coast Guard suspended its search for 19-year-old Chris Jackson. On Friday at about 8:30pm, Jackson's father tells Eyewitness News his son was having the time of his life with friends, but was ignoring warnings to stay out of the water when his life was cut short.

Then on Saturday, two other swimmers, a Missouri City father and his 10-year-old son went under about 40 yards off shore. The search for them continued all day.

It's a story beach goer Milady Pleasants knows all too well.

She said, "A very close friend of ours lost his life."

A rip current killed her friend. Her children were with him, but they survived.

"They actually swam back. They got caught up in it as well. It took them a long time," Pleasants recalled.

Beach goers at San Luis Pass Park continue to get into the water, in spite of the warnings that it is never safe to swim there. Additionally, red flag warnings caution Galveston Island beach goers about strong rip currents. Experts advise that if you find yourself caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore and you will eventually work your way out.

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