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Loved ones create makeshift memorial for 18-year-old missing swimmer

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 00:55:26-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Several boats in the water, a helicopter from above, members of the dive rescue team, and sonar technology are all being used to canvass Mission Beach where a teenager was last seen Tuesday.

Lifeguards say they saw three people go into the water and step off a san bar before being swept into the rip current. Two people were rescued, but the third person is still missing.

Family and friends tell 10News the missing swimmer is Woodlain Zachee. On Wednesday morning, a makeshift memorial was created remembering the 18-year-old who friends say was a star basketball player at Crawford High School.

"Very ambitious guy. His dream is to play in the NBA." Brown Happy Simon said.

Simon is a close family friend and considers himself Zachee's mentor. He says Zachee and his twin brother graduated this past Monday.

"He's a guy that whenever he wants to do something, he'll get it done. Respectful. Never in trouble," Simon said.

On the beach, family and friends comforted one another as this recovery effort continued.

"We're waiting for calls... we can't rest. We can't event process it," Simon said.

Simon says everyone is holding out hope Zachee is found. He also thanks the community for support.

"A lot of them [people] came out yesterday and showed support. Hug us. Give us some words of encouragement and we're really grateful for that," Simon said.

And as events like this can take a toll on all of those involved, Lifeguard Chief James Gartland says an effort has been made to make sure all of those involved have the support they need.

“The City of San Diego and Fire Rescue Department has a robust peer support team and mental health support team," said Chief Gartland.

"So all of those folks are in the loop they're helping out, the lifeguards are helping one another, SDPD, and the Police Department Crisis intervention is also helping the community."