Island beachgoer disappears in surf

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — The search for a Mission teenager who went missing Thursday while swimming on South Padre Island turned to a recovery mission, local authorities said.

Law enforcement officials said the 18-year-old boy went missing while onboard a boogie board near Beach Access No. 5 on South Padre Island .

Although authorities declined to identify the teenager, others identified him as Mario Alberto Silva.

The teenager did not know how to swim but took his boogie board farther into the water, said Silverio Cisneros, assistant chief with the Cameron County Parks Rangers. It’s believed he fell off of the boogie board and was unable to get back on. The teen was by himself in the water.

“He went in too deep, and when he tried to get back, he couldn’t,” Cisneros said.

Although two civilians noticed that the teenager was in distress and tried to help him, they were unable to pull him out of the water because it was too deep, Cisneros said. The beachgoers lost sight of him.

Authorities don’t believe the water conditions played a part in the teen’s disappearance.

“It’s the fact that he didn’t know how to swim and he went too deep,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros said local authorities had switched the search to a recovery mission rather than a rescue mission late Thursday afternoon.

“At this point it’s a recovery,” Cisneros said.

Several law enforcement agencies began to search for the teenager around 12:30 p.m. after receiving a call there was a missing swimmer, said Lt. Karl Alujandre, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard sent out a plane, helicopter and rescue boat to the area. Cameron County Parks Rangers, South Padre Island police and fire departments, county lifeguards and beach patrol also participated in the search Thursday afternoon, Alujandre said.

Alujandre said the Coast Guard continued to search for the swimmer late Thursday afternoon and would continue to search until a decision was made otherwise.

“We are continuing this search as if this person is still alive and one of our own family. We are giving it our all,” Alujandre said.