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Search suspended for Vero Beach High School senior missing at sea

Lenton Ward, 18, disappeared while swimming near Jensen Beach
Lenton Ward
Posted at 2:54 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-16 18:51:36-04

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a missing Vero Beach High School senior who disappeared while swimming near Jensen Beach.

Family members said Lenton "Ty" Ward was at Dollman Park Beachside with friends Wednesday, celebrating their upcoming graduation from Vero Beach High School, when he vanished in the water.

The Coast Guard said the search was suspended Friday night.

Coast Guard crews searched for Lenton Ward a total of 58 hours, covering 907 square miles, an area roughly the size of Rhode Island.

"The decision to suspend active searching in any case is never one we come to lightly," Chief Warrant Officer Clint Smith said. "We offer our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Ward in this difficult time."

Ward played football and lacrosse for Vero Beach High School.

According to an incident report, Ward was last seen about 150 yards offshore.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office conducted an aerial search, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Martin County Sheriff's Office and U.S Border Patrol also assisted in the search.

Family members also bought flashlights to do their own search along the beach Thursday night for any sign of Ward, his clothing or his jewelry.

family of missing swimmer.JPG
Family members of Lenton Ward console each other.

Deputies describe "extreme" surf conditions when Ward disappeared, with high winds and high waves breaking multiple times before reaching the shore.

Family members said he was wearing dark gray shorts and a gold necklace.

law enforcement stands by water in search for missing swimmer
Several law enforcement agencies search for a missing swimmer in the water near Jensen Beach.