Father of 16-year-old drowning victim: "Our hearts are irretrievably broken"

Body of 16-year-old swimmer recovered in Matagorda Beach

By Brittany Jeffers - Reporter, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor, Brittany Taylor - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - The search for a 16-year-old boy who went missing while swimming in Matagorda Beach on Sunday afternoon has ended after a body was recovered Monday evening, Coast Guard officials said.

Joseph Thomas was last seen swimming with his friends but was reported missing after not making it back to shore. 

The body, which matched the description of the missing teen, was recovered around 6 p.m. Monday, officials said.

Thomas' father shared a statement to Facebook saying the family's hearts were "irretrievably broken."

The body of our son and brother, Joseph Carlton Thomas has been recovered. Our hearts are irretrievably broken. Joseph had a spirit and personality that belied his youth, an air of confidence that was both encouraging and inspiring. We have been robbed of the gift he was in the flesh while we cherish how he touched us all. I have been fielding communications from kids and parents from across our area. Please know we appreciate every kind word, pleasant glance, big hug and understanding nod during this difficult time. Thank You Very Much.

According to his father, Thomas had been swimming with friends at Matagorda Bay when he got caught in a riptide. 

A post was shared to Facebook by Thomas' father saying Thomas had been able to "help one young lady to safety before he disappeared."

Authorities are warning swimmer to take cautious and heed warning flags.

“People need to understand it's really dangerous to swim in an area where all this tidal flow is coming in and out. We have a history of drownings at the San Luis Pass. We have patrol, signs, etc., but we're not there all the time, and it is dangerous,” said Chief Peter Davis, with Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

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