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Rip current death prompts volunteer search teams to organize efforts

Rip current death prompts volunteer search teams to organize efforts
Posted at 7:18 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 07:03:41-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's now easier for four-wheel drive clubs and other volunteers to organize their efforts when searching the coast for missing people.

The Padre Island Search and Rescue Task Force is a Facebook group that formed Wednesday, a day after the body of an 18 year old boy who got caught in a rip current was discovered.

“It makes it easier for us to communicate," the group's founder Terry Samuels said. "And (we can) share ideas to coordinate when something does happen."

Already the group has more than 100 members, and Samuels says it's not just people who own four-wheel drive vehicles that can cover beaches with loose sand and other difficult terrain.

Drone pilots are also among the members, as are boat owners and people who just like to walk along the beach.

"We have eyes basically in every layer of this search grid from sand to water and then north and south as well,” Samuels said.

Andru Bass is the teen who got caught in the rip current of J.P. Luby beach near the Packery Channel in Corpus Christi Sunday night.

His body was found Tuesday about a mile from where he disappeared.

Dozens of people visited that stretch of beach Thursday, and one of them was pleased to hear of the task force's formation.

“I think that’s a great idea," beachgoer Cali Correa said. "Education and awareness is one of the biggest things you can do to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.”

Despite that beach being known for its prevalence of rip currents, Correa says having lifeguards on-duty there makes her feel safer.

But Samuels says, even with that protection, it's only a matter of time until another swimmer gets swept out to sea, and that's why his new group will be ready.

“It’s never going to stop no matter how many life guards you have out there," he said.

Meanwhile, an acquaintance of the Bass family warns of at least two fake Go Fund Me fundraising websites that have popped-up claiming to be raising money for the family.

Kim Perez says that currently there are no legitimate Go Fund Me pages for the Basses, but there is a way you can contribute to them.

Perez is having T-shirts with Andru's picture on them printed to be worn by the family during memorial services.

The total cost is $84, and she's accepting donations to cover it.

UPDATE: The donations came in and the cost was raised and covered. She thanks all who contributed.