Missing teens believed to be strong pool swimmers, inexperienced in ocean, officials say

By Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor, Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - While beach conditions somewhat eased Monday, the Memorial Day weekend saw rough waters. Rip currents are believed to be the cause of at least one death and the disappearance of two more swimmers.

Officials gave an update Monday after one man drowned and two teens went missing while swimming during Memorial Day weekend. 

“These are tragic times right now and our hearts and prayers go out with the families,” said Lt. Cmdr. Karen Damon, with the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to authorities, the conditions along the coast were hazardous and many beaches saw strong rip currents and high winds.

The body of 29-year-old Jose Abel Hernandez was recovered Sunday near the San Louis Pass after he’d been reported missing while swimming Saturday. 

Two other swimmers, both teens, went missing Sunday -- one at Surfside Beach and the other at a beach near Matagorda.

The U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities have been searching for the boys since they were reported missing. Coast Guard vessels, helicopters and one plane are scanning a search area encompassing 28 miles of shoreline and 10 nautical miles into the Gulf. 

A 16-year-old boy disappeared while swimming near Matagorda Beach over the weekend, followed a few hours later by a 17-year old who disappeared swimming approximately 150 yards off Surfside Beach. Damon said both teens were swimming with friends when they disappeared.

“Both were classified as strong swimmers in the pool and not necessarily familiar with the ocean environment,” said Damon.

Officials said red flag warnings had been up throughout the weekend, but people are still allowed to swim at their own risk. 

The 17-year-old may have gotten caught in a strong current, and when his friends last saw him, he was about 150 yards out from shore, police said.

Authorities also said during the news conference that they have been conducting a near-continuous search for the 16-year-old.

That teen was last seen swimming with friends, officials said.

The hazardous conditions didn't stop people from heading to the beach, but many beachgoers were extra cautious. 

"Even if you are a strong swimmer, this is something that I wouldn’t even want to step into because I’m scared of not coming back out of it," said beachgoer Linda Blue. "If you look at it, it’s just not a calm ocean to go into today."

The identities of the missing swimmers have not yet been released.

WATCH: Officials give update on missing swimmers

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