Boy missing after surf drags him into water at Cowell Ranch State Beach

The search from air for a missing boy swept into the ocean at a San Mateo County beach Monday afternoon was called off for the night.

Family members identified the boy as 12-year-old Arunay Pruthi of Fremont. He was with his father and little brother at Cowell Ranch State Beach near Half Moon Bay on an an unusually warm day. 

Officials said a sneaker swept all three into the ocean. By 4:38 p.m. Cal Fire officials said the boy was missing. 

Helicopters from the Coast Guard and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s department searched from the air well past dusk. Two small boats and search crews were on the ground looking for the missing 12-year-old.

"There were several people standing on the water from one family and a wave came up and swept one adult male and two children into the water," said Cecile Juliette from Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit.

The seventh grader was with his father and eight-year-old brother when a sneaker wave grabbed them into the ocean. Cal Fire said they were splashed around and beaten by the waves. The water pushed the father and 8-year-old back to shore. Arunay was swept under.

From the cliff side, a frantic father showed authorities his son in the water.

"They got to the edge of the cliff, they looked down and they could see there was one juvenile boy about 100 yards into the water and he got sucked under and they didn't have eyes on him again," said Juliette.

The sheriff’s department used aircraft with thermal imaging technology to search at night.

"We are obviously very concerned with how long he’s been in the water and the conditions of the San Mateo County coastline and the potential for hypothermia," said San Mateo County Sheriff Detective Rosemerry Blankswade.

At the time the Coast Guard said waves and swells reached roughly 10 to 15 feet.

"We’ve been seeing winter wave conditions that means we have larger waves than usual," said Barbara Morris from the California State Parks.

"The surf was really high," said Lauren Roberge of Danville. "It was more like just giant waves going one after the other. It was like a washing machine if you were in the water."

"All it takes is that one wave to come up much further, grab you by your ankles, throw you off balance and suck you back in," said Juliette.

The search will continue Tuesday at dawn. 

Arunay was described as 5'6" and was last seen wearning a white swim top and green swim shorts.