SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - San Mateo County officials resumed the search for a missing high school student presumed to have drowned while at Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay Thursday morning and they concluded their efforts later in the day with no sign of the teen.
Coastside Fire District firefighters have been using jet skis to move back and forth, parallel to the coast.They searched an area about 30 yards out, where the teen’s mother and aunt said they saw his body floating. The events mark a tragic end to what was a fun filled Spring Break.
“Just speechless about the whole situation. I’m still just in denial about it,” said Jason Upshur, a friend of the missing teen.
Friends such as Jason Upshur joined the family of Naphtali Moimoi, as the group watched and hoped for a recovery. Coastal Fire District firefighters used wave runners to search an area of the rough surf, where relatives say they spotted his remains.
“He was a good loving kid. He loved everybody. And go out of his way for anybody,” said David Moimoi, Naphtali’s father.
Eighteen year old Naphtali Moimoi had come to Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay with friends Thursday. “Big-Nef” as he was called, was a Hayward High School football star, headed to the University of Wyoming on a full football scholarship.
“There was no fear in his heart on the football field. In the classroom too, he was always like, headstrong and always going forward. And always being happy about everything,” said Upshur.
Moimoi and his friends were spending a last hurrah together during Spring Break, before they all graduated and went separate ways. He was on a boogie board enjoying the water, but in rough surf. Friends saw him struggling. His mother told Fox 2 she warned him of possible dangers before the ill-fated trip.
“I asked if you guys checked the weather before you came out here and he said, ‘yes.’ He said it’s good. And I just told him to stay out of the water,” said Lisa Moimoi.
A rip current had pulled Moimoi under, and only his boogie board popped back up. His body was seen floating face down shortly thereafter, but friends couldn’t reach him because of the conditions. Officials say Naphtali is presumed dead and that this is a recovery operation.
“I love him. And I know the heavenly father is watching over him,” said his father. His mother added, “Pray for him, that he return to us.”
The family is hopes recovering Naphtali’s body will bring closure to this painful ordeal. They’re also setting up a Go-Fund-Me account to help with funeral costs. His classmates at Hayward High School will hold a vigil tonight at there’s a candlelight vigil at 6:45 p.m. Friday.