Search for missing swimmer to continue on Monday

Published: May. 14, 2011 at 11:37 PM CDT|Updated: May. 15, 2011 at 11:32 PM CDT
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Family members of the missing swimmer identify him as Ray Lee Vital, of Welsh. (Photo Courtesy:...
Family members of the missing swimmer identify him as Ray Lee Vital, of Welsh. (Photo Courtesy: Vital Family and Facebook)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Authorities temporarily suspended the search for a 19-year-old man who went missing while swimming Saturday afternoon at the I-10 Beach.

Rescue teams say they have "exhausted every avenue" in trying to find the missing man's body. Authorities tell 7 News that vessels will remain in the area over the next couple of days, during which time they believe the man's body will naturally resurface.

The man has been identified as Ray Lee Vital of Welsh.

Vital's family gathered at the I-10 beach Sunday as the search continued for a second day.

The Vitals tell 7 News they were enjoying a family gathering when the tragedy hit.

Family members say Ray Vital and his mother were holding onto a raft when the teen went under water and never resurfaced. They say his mother tried to save him.

"She tried to catch him, but she couldn't," said the missing man's aunt, Pamela Vital.

Vital's mother had to be transported to a local hospital, but was later released.

Lake Charles Police, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Coast Guard searched into the night Saturday for the missing man. The search was called off and resumed on Sunday.

"There's a grid pattern that we use to search," said Sgt. Mark Kraus with the Lake Charles Police Department. "The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is doing what we call dragging to hopefully to recover the body."

Officials with Wildlife and Fisheries said it normally takes a few hours to recover bodies of drowning victims.

Meanwhile, the I-10 Beach remains open.

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