After a 24-hour search for a missing swimmer off Clearwater Beach, officials say they are giving up.
The search for James Poindexter was in its second day when strong currents forced divers from the water, leaving his family – including his four children – fearing the worst.
The Spring Hill man was last seen around 2 p.m. just offshore at Bayside Park. His family says he was walking in the water about 40 yards out when he disappeared.
The 27-year-old is not a strong swimmer, his family said.
"He started screaming for help," sobbed his mother-in-law, Selina Sierra. "We went out to try to get him. He was coming up. I was telling him to doggie paddle to try and get closer so I can meet him halfway, and he kept going under and coming back up and asking, 'Please help me.' And we couldn't get there."
Crews from several agencies spent Labor Day afternoon using helicopters in the air and side-scan sonar from boats to try to find him. But as the sun went down, they were forced to suspend the search for the night.
Tuesday morning, only dive teams were sent out. Kent Watts of Clearwater Fire and Rescue said they were expanding the search area, fearing Poindexter may have drifted somewhere else.
"With the strong tidal currents we saw last night, it was very difficult to keep a diver on the bottom," he said Tuesday.
Conditions worsened Tuesday afternoon, forcing crews from the water not long after 3 p.m.
"The current in the area became so bad this afternoon it was ripping the masks off of the
divers," a city spokesperson said.
Watts said there was an outgoing tide when Poindexter, a coach at the Spring Hill Boys and Girls Club, disappeared.
No further searches are planned.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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