Searchers sweep sea floor for man who fell off Pacific Beach pier

SAN DIEGO - A man who fell off Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach and was never seen resurfacing remained missing Monday morning after a nightlong search by U.S. Coast Guard personnel, authorities said.

Taylor Watts (Photo: Facebook)

Lifeguards from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department launched the search about 5:30 p.m. Sunday when witnesses reported that a fully clothed 27- year-old man fell off the pier and may have hit his head on the way down, SDFD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. None of the witnesses saw the man resurface after he hit the water.

A lifeguard immediately jumped into the ocean from the pier and was soon joined in the search by a lifeguard boat, a smaller watercraft operated by a lifeguard and a helicopter helping to light the area and search for the man from above, Munoz said. Emergency crews also searched the water from the pier above, and at one point 16 lifeguards were in the water searching for the man under the pier's pilings and in the open water.

Waves were 4 to 6 feet Sunday with strong rip currents in the area.

"During a search such as this, accountability is very important," Munoz said. "The incident commander has to be sure and account for every lifeguard in the water."

Lifeguards eventually called off their search around 7 p.m., around the same time a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Haddock began searching, officials said.

The Coast Guard searched for the victim the entire night without success, Petty Officer Rob Simpson said. The helicopter and the Haddock planned to continue the search "at least through today."

Lifeguards rejoined the search around 6 Monday morning. Lifeguards were using a sweeping technique, where divers are tethered to a point on the ocean floor, to make sure they don't miss any areas.

Monday, a friend identified the missing man as Taylor Watts and said he is 27 years old. According to his Facebook page, Watts is a singer-songwriter with Keep Your Soul Records.