As lifeguards do everything they can, family and friends are grappling with the tragic loss of 18-year-old Woodlain Zachee, who they say had a bright future.
“He wanted to graduate high school, he wanted to go to college, he wanted to get his shot in the NBA. This is a driven, very talented guy we just lost in a matter of seconds,” family friend Brown Happy Simon said.
Zachee submerged into the ocean Tuesday afternoon and never resurfaced during a strong rip current. Lifeguards quickly responded, rescuing two other teens with Zachee. Since Tuesday afternoon, an aggressive search has taken place including divers, boats, and helicopters from both San Diego lifeguards and the Coast Guard.
“The third day we are just more familiar with the terrain and we have areas that we know are easy to scan. Items that we have already seen that we’ve already dove on, we will rule them out if they’re in the same area,” Lifeguard Chief James Gartland explained.
Friends say Zachee had just graduated Crawford High School Monday and was named MVP at the district’s basketball championship game.
Lifeguards are committed to continuing to deploy all resources and effort to bring Zachee’s family closure even as the days go on.
“The search area expands as it goes on. We did drop trackers in the area and we follow those trackers throughout the day. It helps give us a good parameter, but it’s really difficult and kind of a complex equation,” Gartland said.
Staffing looks different depending on the time of year at San Diego beaches, but lifeguards say they were fully staffed on Tuesday. The recovery effort will resume at sunrise Wednesday.