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An 18-year-old man is missing and feared dead after falling through a blowhole at a state beach south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said.
The teenager, identified by KION as Braxton Cooper Stuntz of Carmel, was hiking with friends Saturday along a cliff at Garrapata State Beach when he spotted a blowhole in the rocks.
Curious, Stuntz approached the hole for a closer look, but slipped and fell through the opening, landing about 15 feet below on a sandy beach hemmed in by large rocks.
He apparently was not hurt in the fall as he flashed a thumbs-up sign to his two companions peering through the hole, Coast Guard spokeswoman Emily Rowan told KSBW.
But his friends soon lost sight of Stuntz as 14-foot waves crashed around him. The waves were coming in at 9-second intervals, the sheriff’s office said.
Stuntz’s companions ran for help and flagged beachgoers Ali Bowen and her friend.
“He said, ‘Do you have cell phone service? Our friend fell into a hole between two rocks and we can’t get him out,'” Bowen told KION. She called 911.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, CalFire and the Coast Guard responded. Helicopters with the Coast Guard circled the area until sundown Sunday, but searchers found no sign of Stuntz.
Divers were reportedly unable to enter the water Sunday morning because the surf was too rough.
While Stuntz is considered missing, the sheriff’s office is now treating the case as a recovery operation.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Teen-feared-dead-blowhole-fall-Carmel-Monterey-13535243.php.