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Search for missing 14-year-old swimmer called off at dark

Multiple agencies were in the water and in the air tonight searching for a 14-year-old Polk County boy who was carried away by a strong current from shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico sometime around 4:30 p.m.

The search included three helicopters, one from the U.S. Coast Guard, one from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and a third unknown agency.

On the water, as many as 10 Manatee County Marine Rescue lifeguards searched from personal watercraft and inflatables, while the sheriff’s office, West Manatee Fire Rescue and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers searched by boat.

According to a sheriff’s office press release, the missing boy and his brother were in knee-deep water near the Willow Avenue beach access point when they were caught in the current. The 12-year-old brother was able to get to shore.

A sheriff’s office sergeant on the beach observing the scene of boats and helicopters involved in the search amid crowds of families on the beach said, “It’s just a terrible tragedy.”

The MCSO officer said a local church was helping to provide overnight shelter for the family.

The search was called off for the night at approximately 8:24 p.m., but the sergeant said it would resume near 7 a.m. on July 7.

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