Search continues for missing 8-year-old Florida swimmer

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Search Continues For Missing 8-Year-Old Florida Swimmer

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue personnel resumed their search Sunday for Hezekiah Hill, 8, who disappeared in the surf in New Smyrna Beach Saturday.

Officials said Air One and the U.S. Coast Guard searched by boat and helicopter. Beach officials said personal watercraft would also be used in the search.

"I can't leave. I can't. I just can't," said Bonita Hill, the missing boy’s mother.

Volusia County Beach Safety officials said the current is strong northward, so the search is moving as far north as the lifeguard headquarters in Daytona Beach and is spanning more than 20 miles.

Hill disappeared Saturday afternoon south of the jetties at New Smyrna Beach. Beach officials told Eyewitness News that Hill's 11-year-old sister had to be rescued after she tried to grab her brother; she is recovering in the hospital.

Hill said her family had been at the beach less than 30 minutes when her son was swept up in the current.

"I never, never would think that this can happen," Hill said.

Officials searched for Hill Saturday afternoon but called off the search after nightfall.

Hill's godmother drove to the beach to offer support for the family.

"Only thing I can ask is you all just pray for the family and that God gives us strength to make it through," said Vervicia Woods.

Beach officials flew the red and purple flag through the weekend because of the strong rip currents. They are asking that beachgoers please swim in front of a manned lifeguard tower and that all children should be accompanied when entering the ocean.

"There's been a lot of lifeguards through here. A lot of Coast Guard," beachgoer Michelle Bauman said.

Beach Safety had seven water rescues and one medical rescue Sunday, as well as several man-of-war stings.

There were nine water rescues with 11 victims, Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue officials said late Saturday. A woman was taken to the hospital by New Smyrna Beach Fire personnel after she was rescued from the surf; her condition is not known at this time, officials said.

Beach safety officials said the search will end at sunset, but resume again Monday morning until he's found.

This is a developing story. Check back on WFTV.com for updates

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