Officials happy family of Omar Gonzalez has closure

Officials happy family of Omar Gonzalez has closure

MISSISSIPPI SOUND (WLOX) - Omar Gonzalez's body was found Wednesday morning by a charter boat captain, three days after he went missing in the Mississippi Sound.

The 16-year-old and his 17-year-old friend went to Ship Island on Sunday to have fun and catch crabs, but after going into the water on the west end of the island, the rough currents took the Petal teens out to sea.

The friend was found about 6 p.m. Sunday holding on to a buoy. About 10 a.m. Wednesday, Omar's body was found in the Mississippi Sound, about one and a half miles away from where he was last seen.

In addition to the DMR and U.S. Coast Guard, the recovery mission involved the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Air National Guard and the Gulfport Fire Department.

"We all worked very well together. The result was not what we wanted to happen, but we did work together, and we were able to help the family...have some sort of closure," said Melissa Scallan, with the Department of Marine Resources.

The body was identified by Harrison County Deputy Coroner Brian Switzer.

Jim Abney, Omar's stepfather, shared this statement:

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. We are forever grateful.

The threat of another incident may grow with the increased number of people during the summer months. Scallan says even though the DMR is there to protect swimmers, they still have to protect themselves.

"There are more people in the water during the summer months, more people on boats during this time of year, so we just urge everybody to be cautious and to swim carefully, boat carefully, obey the rules of the water so this kind of thing doesn't happen," said Scallan.

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