GALVESTON, Texas — The Coast Guard, along with several other agencies, are warning beach-goers to be careful while swimming in Houston-area beaches.
Chief Gary Phillips with the Surfside Police Department said the rip current is still strong and warns swimmers to read the warning signs before getting in the water.
“It’s a current where two of them come together and it pushes you out,” said Surfside Police Department Chief Gary Phillips. “A lot of people have a problem fighting once they do. If they swim to the side they can get out, if they fight it they’re going to get tired and they’re going to go down.”
This warning came during a press conference where the Coast Guard talked about the two teenagers who went missing while swimming this weekend.
A 17-year-old from Houston went missing at Surfside Beach in Freeport, and a 16-year-old went missing in Matagorda Beach.
The searches for the two are still ongoing.
Coast Guard officials said they were notified about the missing 17-year-old Sunday at around 8 p.m. They said the teenager and two of his friends were swimming about 150 yards from shore. The two friends made it back shore, but when they turned around they noticed the 17-year-old was not with them.
“There were several other ones on the beach that were traumatized when he didn’t come back to shore,” Chief Phillips said.
Officials said they called police within three minutes once they realized he was missing.
The 16-year-old was also swimming with a group of friends when he went missing in Matagorda Beach.
“These are tragic times right now and our hearts and prayers go out to the families and the loved ones that are missing their child and their nephew,” said Lt. Commander Karen Damon with U.S. Coast Guard.
Lt. Damon says both teens were classified as strong swimmers in the pool but not necessarily familiar with the ocean environment.
“The pool obviously is a much clearer and calmer situation. It is a controlled situation and often times there are lifeguards,” said Lt. Damon “We always encourage everyone to wear personal flotation devices in the pool but definitely out in the ocean as well.”
Phillips said there are warning systems up at every entrance of Surfside Beach and there are flags around the beach that warns of conditions.