A lone beach towel, containing a cellphone and a set of car keys, found on the sand after a distressed swimmer was reported missing may have helped police identify the man they have searched the ocean for since Tuesday night.
Officers said they noticed a blue beach towel “on the beach with no one around it” as they arrived on scene, according to an incident report. Officers spotted the same towel alone on the sand as nightfall forced most of the crews to temporarily suspend their search efforts.
Police found a cellphone and a set of car keys inside the towel. Police were able to use the items to identify the property’s owner as 33-year-old James Franklin Ross II of Rock Hill.
“Based on the area (where) the property was found and being left unattended I believe the property could belong to the distressed swimmer,” an officer noted in the report.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sun News
Police spoke to Ross’ mother who said her son was at Myrtle Beach on a day trip from Rock Hill and she wasn’t sure when he would be home, according to the report.
Police located Ross’ vehicle at the 28th Avenue South beach access and noted it was still parked in the same spot at 5 a.m. the following morning.
But police are not convinced the recovered property belongs to the missing swimmer.
“At this time, we do not have any new information to release on either of these investigations,” Lt. Joey Crosby of the Myrtle Beach Police Department said of the missing swimmer and the found property. “Officers do not have evidence to connect the two investigations. Officers will continue to investigate both incidents.”
Myrtle Beach police and fire-rescue crews, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, responded to the beach behind the Crown Reef Resort near 29th Avenue South in reference to a distressed swimmer at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses told police that they “heard a white male, 20-30 years of age, screaming for help about 100 yards out in the ocean,” according to the report. Witnesses said they went into the water to try to rescue the distressed swimmer but lost him in the surf.
Within 90 seconds of the call, Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue swimmers were in the water, searching for the missing swimmer, said Lt. Christian Sliker with Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue.
The U.S. Coast Guard used a vessel and a helicopter to assist in the search. Myrtle Beach police employed wave-runners to conduct a grid search along with the help from Lack’s Beach Service.
Crews continue to search for the missing swimmer.