By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Rescue crews searched desperately yesterday afternoon for signs of a young man who was washed into the ocean by a surprise wave.

Even as evening descended, helicopters with searchlights probed the darkness around Preston Island and people gathered in cars at coastal overlooks to watch and hope.

By nightfall, however, searchers were unable to locate the young man.

The youth was last seen about 50 yards off shore by companions around 3:40 p.m.

According to one witness who asked not to be identified, about 12 friends were standing at the edge of the rocks when a wave struck the youth and pulled him into the ocean.

The waves were rough and challenged the rescue personnel looking for the youth along the shore.

The rule of thumb is if you have high surf warnings, stay off the rocks, said Crescent City police officer Rodger Chindgren.

Authorities did not release the boys name or any other details about the accident.

Along with the police department, the Sheriffs Department, Search and Rescue, and the Coast Guard responded. Two rescue boats and helicopters were reportedly used in the search.

The accident marks the second time in a year that a person was washed from a Del Norte County beach into the ocean.

About one year ago, a man on the spit at the Klamath River mouth was surprised by a rogue wave.

He was lost, despite the efforts of search and rescue personnel and a friend who was with him at the time.