Search for HSU student swept off North Jetty suspended

Man identified as 19-year-old native of Los Angeles

Waves crash onto the rocks at the North Jetty on Tuesday afternoon near where a still-missing man was swept into the ocean on Monday afternoon. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)
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The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for a Humboldt State University student who was swept off the North Jetty on Monday afternoon and who has not been located.

It was about 4:30 p.m. when a 911 call was placed and the caller reported there was a man in the water off the jetty. The Coast Guard along with Samoa Fire, deputies from the sheriff’s office and state parks personnel responded to the scene as the search for 19-year-old HSU freshman KeyMaan Stringer, a native of Los Angeles, got underway.

“We get the 911 call and so does the Coast Guard and when that call comes in, we send out deputies,” said Lt. Mike Fridley of the sheriff’s office, who heads up the Special Services Division. “Our boating deputy Conan Moore was out there and we work together with the Coast Guard during the search. The Coast Guard has their own protocols, but we coordinate our efforts with theirs and everybody works together in a search like this.”

Fridley said the conditions were ripe for this sort of incident with high water on the jetty making conditions very dangerous and it’s another example of the power of the ocean, particularly for someone who may not be very familiar with local conditions.

“If you look at pictures from out there, the ocean looks really rough and that was a day he probably shouldn’t have been out there,” Fridley said. “If you go and look at the surf, the water was on the jetty and that’s usually not a good sign.”

The Coast Guard dispatched a 47-foot motor lifeboat and a helicopter to search the area and those units searched a 160-square-mile area before calling off the search at around 11 o’clock Tuesday morning. The crews conducted numerous search patterns but were unable to locate any sign of Stringer.

“I was the boating deputy for five years and the amount of water coming in and out of that bay is enormous,” Fridley said. “The speed and volume of the water is crazy and after someone is swept into the ocean, all we can do from shore is look out for the person. Units will search specific areas and we have a boat that, if the ocean is calm enough, we can use to go out and look around.”

The danger of the ocean along local beaches can be a surprise to visitors and locals alike and Fridley said caution is the best course of action if you head out to the jetties.

“People get washed off this jetty all the time and if they get lost in those dolos, they never get out,” Fridley said. “The waves were rough and whenever I see water on the North Jetty, it’s not good. The further you get out on the jetty, the more dangerous it becomes. It’s taking the brunt of the ocean.”

Students, faculty and staff at Humboldt State who may be struggling with the incident can contact the Counseling & Psychological Services at 707-826-3236.

Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.

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