POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The search was suspended late Sunday evening for a 24-year-old woman who went missing overnight while swimming off the Jersey shore.
As CBS2’s Reena Roy reported, crews had been looking for Zuzana Oravcova all day Sunday – but there was no sign of her. Late Sunday, a Coast Guard rescue ship suspended its grim search off the Jersey Shore, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.
Police in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey arrived on scene around 2:30 a.m. Sunday after receiving calls about two missing swimmers — a man and a woman. They had gone into the ocean and ended up in distress due to high surf conditions, police said.
The woman was identified as Oravcova, the man as Thomas Kadlec, 23, Point Pleasant Beach police said. Both are from Slovakia.
The U.S. Coast Guard says Kadlec was able to swim to shore, while Oravcova was not.
Upon reaching the shore, Kadlec immediately notified a boardwalk employee who called police.
“We’re working with the Coast Guard, so the Coast Guard — as well as the north beaches — have been searching pretty much all day,” Chris Li, captain of Bayhead Beach, said before the search ended.
Li said the crews combed miles of water – beach after beach – from Point Pleasant near 300 Beach Ave. where the Oravcova was last seen, all the way to Island Beach Park.
“We’re on patrol. We have all our guards with binoculars waking by foot in the search area — at least in Bayhead,” he said.
Swimmers were kept out of the water for part of the day.
“They said within 24 hours that two people of been taken out, and that they were, you know, obviously keeping all of us at the hotel safe not wanting us to go out swimming — because the riptide was too high,” said beachgoer Lisa Bachman.
A Jenkinson’s Boardwalk employee confirmed that Oravcova was a foreign exchange student working at the boardwalk.
“They come over on visas and they work, you know scope; go up to the city, explore a bit of the United States,” said Bayhead Beach supervisor Hank Handchen.
People said it is common for swimmers to go in for a dip after hours when there are no lifeguards around.
“It gets kind of crazy, so you could definitely see something like that happening pretty easily,” said beachgoer John Hewitt. “You have a few drinks in you, and then you want to go swim in the ocean, and there’s nobody stop you so yeah, you jump in.”
“It’s been happening up and down the shore,” Li added. “After hours or before hours is when people are getting in trouble.”
It was especially dangerous this weekend after a storm offshore. The National Weather Service issued a warning for high rip currents.
“Nobody should be going out in the water when it’s unguarded,” Li said. “There’s tons of riptides all up and down the coast.”
While Oravcova was still officially considered missing late Sunday night, a representative of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk said they have grief counselors talking to her coworkers, and they are in touch with her family in Slovakia.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Point Pleasant police.