Body of missing Petal teen found near Ship Island

Body of missing Petal teen found near Ship Island

SHIP ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - A Petal family's worst nightmare became a reality Wednesday morning. Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources confirm a charter boat captain found the body of missing teen Omar Gonzalez around 10 a.m.

Department spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Omar's body was found about a mile and a half from where he was searching for crabs Sunday on Ship Island.

A weekend trip to Ship Island ended in tragedy when Omar, 16, and another teen were swept away by a swift current.

After an extensive search by the Coast Guard and patrol officers with the DMR, Omar's 17-year-old friend was found clinging to a buoy around 6 p.m. Sunday. Authorities worked tirelessly over the next two days to locate Omar, but the Coast Guard was forced to suspend its search at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Scallan said Harrison County Deputy Coroner Brian Switzer identified the body and notified the Gonzalez family.

"This was not the outcome we wanted," said Keith Davis, Chief of Marine Patrol. "But we are glad that we could bring closure to Omar's family. We also want to thank our local and federal partners for helping in this search."

Omar's stepfather, Jim Abney, described the teen as a momma's boy who was always happy. Omar had just completed his sophomore year at Petal High School, where he made straight A's.

Abney said Omar was supposed to be staying the night at a friend's house, and his family did not know about the trip to the island. Abney said if he would have known about the trip, he would not have allowed Omar to go because of strong storms in the area. He also said Omar is not a strong swimmer.

"Thank you to all the parties involved in the search, especially the U.S. Coast Guard. We know they worked so hard to find Omar. They have gone above and beyond and have been outstanding," said Abney. "We are forever grateful."

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