Search for musician who fell off Crystal Pier continues for 3rd day

SAN DIEGO -- A search for the body of a musician feared dead after he fell off Pacific Beach's Crystal Pier over the weekend entered its third day Tuesday, with lifeguards combing the shoreline from a helicopter starting just after sunrise.

Taylor Watts (Photo: Facebook)

As of 1 p.m., searchers had not found the body of 27-year-old Taylor Watts, but they said they planned to continue searching until nightfall.

Witnesses said the singer and songwriter, a Houston native who performed as Tay Watts, may have hit his head when he fell off the pier around 5:30 p.m. Sunday. He apparently never resurfaced after plunging into the water.

A San Diego Fire-Rescue Department lifeguard immediately jumped into the ocean from the pier, launching a search effort that went through the night Sunday into early Monday, continued throughout Monday and resumed this morning.

The search and recovery efforts began at 7 this morning from an SDFD helicopter, fire department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. Three boats equipped with side-scan sonar were also sent out to comb the waters off Mission and Pacific beaches.

"We will start at the South Mission Beach jetty and scan towards the pier,'' Munoz said. "Divers will be deployed when we find objects of interest.''

The search began Sunday night with a lifeguard boat, helicopter, personal watercraft and at least 16 lifeguards searching from the water, Munoz said. After braving 4- to 6-foot surf for more than an hour, the lifeguards ended the initial search about 7 p.m. Sunday.

Around that same time, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Haddock arrived and searched for Watts throughout Sunday night and Monday morning, Petty Officer Rob Simpson said.

Lifeguards and Coast Guard personnel searched for Watts unsuccessfully all day Monday amid waves of 3 to 4 feet and a strong rip current, Munoz said. The search Monday was called off at 5:30 p.m., a little after sunset.

"Lifeguards searched the areas of interest with scuba divers,'' Munoz said. "We had two vessels with side-scan sonar scanning the area and dove on one object of interest. We had free divers search around the pier and in a large, long shore rip current inside the surf line.''

An SDFD helicopter also made two 50-minute searches along the shoreline and just off shore Monday, Munoz said.