USCG suspends search for students swept out to sea

Two missing includes 19-year-old Shireen Ahsan, of Palo Alto

UPDATE: After 22 hours, the United States Coast Guard has suspended the search for two University of California at Santa Cruz students who were swept out to sea Monday at Bonny Doon Beach near Davenport in Santa Cruz County.

The victims have been identified as 19-year-old Shireen Ahsan, of Palo Alto, and 25-year-old Solaiman Nourzaie, of San Jose, according to UC Santa Cruz spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason.

The 22-hour search covered 46 square miles before it was suspended today, Coast Guard officials said.

Firefighters responded to a cliff at the southern end of the beach around 5 p.m. Monday.

Five UCSC students had gone down to the beach, and three went out to a rocky outcropping where they were swept into the ocean by a wave. One made it back to shore, but the other two remain missing.

With three people back on shore, one climbed to safety with a rope and firefighters staged a cliff rescue to bring the other two up.

Tides were high at the time, with waves estimated at 10 to 15 feet, and big surf is expected for the next two weeks. Anyone going near the water is urged to use caution.

Families and friends have organized a prayer vigil for 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Bonny Doon Beach, according to Hernandez-Jason.


A search is underway today for two Bay Area residents missing since Monday evening in the waters off Bonny Doon State Beach in Santa Cruz County, authorities said.

The missing people, a 19-year-old Palo Alto woman and a 25-year-old man from the San Jose area, are students at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County sheriff's Sgt. Roy Morales said.

Firefighters responded to a cliff rescue at the southern end of the beach around 5 p.m., Cal Fire spokeswoman Colleen Baxter said.

Five UCSC students went down to the beach and three of them headed to a rock outcropping, where a wave swept them out into the ocean, Baxter said.

One of the three students was able to find their way back to shore, but the other two have not been found as of this afternoon, according to Baxter.

Of the three people left on the shore, one of them climbed off the beach with a rope, but two others became stuck there. Santa Cruz firefighters also assisted by setting up a rope system and helping the two people get off the beach, fire Division Chief Jason Hadjuk said.

The two rescued students declined medical treatment and were released at the scene, Hadjuk said.

There were high tides Monday evening, with waves between 10 to 15 feet, Hadjuk said.

Large surf is expected in the waters for the next two weeks and anyone who plans to watch the waves is advised to give themselves more space away from the edge of a cliff, Hadjuk said.

Santa Cruz County fire and state Department of Parks and Recreation personnel also responded to the incident, Baxter said.

Firefighters called on the U.S. Coast Guard to search for the two missing people, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Stanton said.

The Coast Guard sent its Tern Cutter and a motor boat to the scene, where crews faced "extremely low visibility" into the night, Stanton said.

A helicopter crew was also deployed and used infrared camera that saw two images in the water near a cave, according to Stanton.

The crew needed to refuel the helicopter and when they returned down to the cave but were unable to find anything, Stanton said.

The cutter remained on the water overnight and was called out to work another case around 1 p.m. today, according to Stanton.

A helicopter was sent out this morning around 7 a.m. but is facing difficulty getting back in the air today due to mechanical issues, Stanton said.

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17 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

I heard this on the news. I sure hope they are found. I also hope that they keep us updated. I have a kid the same age, so feel it may be someone we know. Praying for them all.

4 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 20, 2016 at 9:42 am

Please pray for them. Facebook link to Vigil below.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Heidi Kling
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 20, 2016 at 12:06 pm

This is so sad. Heart goes out to the families of the young women.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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