Heartbreaking Search Continues: Two NYC Teens Still Missing After Massive Wave at Jacob Riis Park

Massive search operation suspended on Saturday evening with no positive news about teens

Two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, vanished while swimming off Jacob Riis Park in New York City. Witnesses reported a massive wave overtaking them just minutes after lifeguards went off duty. The incident triggered a large-scale rescue operation that included marine units, fire boats, drones, and helicopters.

Search Opeeration
Massive search was launched for 2 teens who went missing after a high wave hit the Jacob Riis Park, NYC X

The search, which began Friday night, has turned into a recovery mission. Elyjha Chandler, 16, and his friend, Christian, were in knee-high water when the wave struck. Elyjha's father, Urshell Chandler, shared that Elyjha couldn't swim and had gone to the beach on a whim instead of attending basketball practice. "It was like a demon coming at them," Urshell said.

Elyjha's mother, in tears, sat near the water's edge, pleading for her son's safe return. "My only son," she cried, looking to the sky. "God is in control. I'm going to keep praying."

Search for missing NYC teens

The teenagers were among four who entered the water, but only two made it back. A good Samaritan managed to pull out one boy, but Elyjha and Christian were swept away. The search effort, involving divers and the U.S. Coast Guard, continued into Saturday.

The family criticized the early departure of lifeguards, who are typically on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer. The state has not commented on this claim.

Elyjha's older sister, Shawanda, tearfully recalled her brother's fear of the water. "He's the perfect little brother," she said, describing him as sweet and always smiling.

The NYPD received reports of a possible drowning around 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Witnesses said the teens tried to jump over a large wave but were overwhelmed. "We think it may be a riptide, but that's still under investigation," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry.

The search covered more than 600 square miles, from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to Long Beach, New York. Late Saturday, the Coast Guard announced the suspension of the search. "The decision to suspend a search is always difficult and weighs heavily on all involved," said Capt. Jonathan Andrechik of Coast Guard Sector New York. "Our thoughts remain with the families during this difficult time."