Check back for updates. Last update: 19:48 UTC.
Shane Ruiz was on a mission trip with Freed-Hardeman University in the Dominican Republic and got sucked away by an undertow while swimming.
He’s officially reported missing for the time being. Two other students were with him, according to reports.
One report said that on their last day of their mission trip, “they stopped to play in the ocean. The ocean was very rough and Shane disappeared while they were in the ocean.”
According to missionary Cory Lamb, at about 4 p.m. local time, several students were standing in no more than three feet of water, but the violent waves knocked Shane down and the undertow took him out to sea. He was beyond their range and could not be saved. Lamb, other group members and several Dominicans tried to save him for nearly three hours. Because of the violence of the ocean, swimmers or boats were unable to reach Ruiz.
According to the newspaper La República, the Dominican Center of Emergency Operations informed yesterday that it had prohibited the use of 132 beaches and spas across the country, due to the abnormal height of the waves.
The other two students with Shane at the time were able pull away from the undertow.
According to Laura Beth Lamb’s blog, her husband and others tried to rescue Shane, but were “beat back by horrendous waves.”
A press release by FHU sent at 19:31 UTC, said Shane was working in the Dominican Republic with the Sigma Rho social club. The group spent spring break teaching children through a Vacation Bible School program and traditionally spent the afternoon of their last day at the beach after working at a childrens’ home in Bobida.
This week is spring break for FHU.
His parents Joseph and Bonnie Ruiz were enroute to the Dominican Republic. Joe ministers in Greenwood, Miss.
Shane was a former student of Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy, through which the first reports have come. He was a freshman mass media major at FHU.
The Ruizes were missionaries to Taiwan for several years, according to a comment of Bob Bauer, an email list participant from central Florida.
The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea, between Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Thanks to Paul Goddard for forwarding emails and providing links and ideas.