What would have started as a pleasant stay on the coast of Oaxaca ended up in tragedy after strong waves off San Agustinillo beach, in the municipality of Tonameca, dragged a 17-year-old teenager from Australia out to sea.
It was on March 2 when, according to testimonies, the 17-year-old would have entered the sea even with the restrictions implemented due to the risky currents that endanger the lives of bathers: “Sometimes they trust themselves because they know how to swim and they don’t know the type of current”, declared for Noticieros 977 the Councilor of Tourism, Miriam Luna Mendoza.
Unfortunately, the warnings from the authorities turned out to be accurate. The young Valiant H.N.P. (initials of his name) was unable to leave the waters of the Oaxacan coast because a strong wave ended up taking him out to sea causing not only his death by drowning, but also his disappearance.
After the report of the missing adolescent, the Municipal Government of Tonameca undertook a search and rescue operations hand in hand with Civil Protection, Public Security, Lifeguard Corps, the Port Captaincy, and the Regional Tourism Office.
However, the first day of “intense searching” did not bear fruit. The young man’s body was still missing, and the authorities did not have any indication of his whereabouts.
Given this, Luna Mendoza managed support from nearby towns, such as Zipolite and Mazunte, in order to increase the crews by sky, sea and land to find the Australian. To these was added the participation of divers, fishermen, tourist services and other types of volunteers who “contributed their bit in the search” to the mission that ended the second day without good news.
“The Municipal Government of Santa María Tonameca appreciates the help provided by the Sol y Mar Restaurant, which contributes its grain of sand in this tragedy, as well as the fishermen’s cooperatives and all those involved who support this difficult search,” said the local administration through a post on their Facebook page.
At this point in the operations, the statement added, the Municipal and State Government strengthened communications to increase the aid teams to locate Valiant who, as of March 3, was still missing.
The operations of March 4 resumed with the presence of the Secretary of the Navy (SEMAR), a State Government helicopter, as well as boats from the neighboring towns of Mazunte and Puerto Ángel, and lifeguards and volunteers from the three communities. “We continue to check the sea waiting to find it,” said the municipal head.
“The supply of fuel for the boats and jet skis that are continually sweeping the sea continues,” added the administration, confirming that there was still enough voluntary help in the search for the body of the adolescent “whose family hopes that achieve the goal.”
The evening of March 5, three days after the disappearance, that the intense interdisciplinary efforts finally led to the discovery of the 17-year-old.
According to what was reported by authorities, the sighting was reported at 4:15 p.m. that Sunday by the Lucas boat, which caught a glimpse of the adolescent’s body off Aragón beach; 3.2 kilometers from the point where Valiant was last seen.
In this way, the Navy squads were notified, who finally took him ashore in order to deliver him to his 44-year-old mother Catherine Ponce and begin the process of repatriating her remains.