The search for a Catalina Express passenger who went overboard Thursday evening near the coast of Long Beach was called off for good Friday evening, family members said.
The incident aboard the Jet Cat Express was reported just before 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The missing passenger was described by authorities as a 24-year-old Black man wearing a white sweatshirt.
Family members who gathered at the Catalina Landing in Long Beach for a second day identified the missing passenger as Keion Dade of Moreno Valley.
A crew member said the man was seen jumping off the rear of the boat. They passed a life ring to Dade, but he disappeared, witnesses said.
The ferry circled for another hour, and the rescue effort soon expanded to include the Coast Guard, L.A. County Lifeguards, a sheriff’s dive team and a helicopter.
The Coast Guard was back in the water Friday morning and continued their search throughout the day for the missing man, before it was called off by 9 p.m.
Grandmother Sandra Freeman says she doesn’t know why Dade would have jumped off the boat.
“He did come back up … He was hollering for help but the boat was going too fast,” Freeman said. “They made a circle and when they came back he was gone.”
The missing man’s older brother, Khy Dade, told KTLA he was stunned. He said he and his brother were launching a trucking business together in a week.
“It’s crazy because he was just at my house,” he said. “We were watching a basketball game. He was playing with his nieces, seemed happy. I can’t believe what happened.”
Family members rented a boat to join the search.
Catalina Express President Greg Bombard talked about what happened Thursday night.
“Deckhands actually saw some of it,” Bombard said. “When they saw him hit the water, they threw a life ring over and here we are looking for him.”
Bombard said the passenger went over the stern of the vessel about 3 miles into the trip, which left from Long Beach at 5:20 pm. on its way to Catalina.
Investigators were interviewing crew members and Dade’s girlfriend. Security cameras on the boat are also being checked to help determined what happened.
Dade lives in the Inland Empire with his father, according to his family.
Dade’s sister tried to hold back tears as she talked about her brother. “Very loving. He was my best friend … We just want him to be safe,” Kiami Dade said.
The Jet Cat Express vessel operates as a privately owned passenger ferry, transporting passengers from the Los Angeles area to Catalina Island.
Bombard said this is the first time anything like this has happened in the 40 years he’s been in business.