Naphtali Moimoi is seen with his family at his signing day.

LARAMIE — Authorities are searching for a University of Wyoming football signee who was swept out to sea at a California beach Thursday, according to multiple local media reports.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Thursday evening that it had transitioned “from a rescue to a water recovery” in the possible drowning incident, though it did not name the 18-year-old male victim. Multiple Bay Area TV stations have identified the teenager as Naphtali Moi Moi, a senior defensive lineman from Hayward High in California who signed with the Cowboys in December. Moi Moi reportedly was on a boogie board at Half Moon Bay when he was swept to sea by a rip current.

KRON-TV reports Moi Moi’s parents have confirmed he is the missing teenager, and KTVU-TV and KGO-TV confirmed Moi Moi’s identity through a friend’s family.

Public information officer Rosemerry Blankswade told the Star-Tribune the sheriff’s office dispatch received a call Friday morning from Moi Moi’s father, who said he saw what looked like a body in the water. Blankswade said the sheriff’s office couldn’t confirm the discovery of a body.

A search team returned to the area Friday morning. That search concluded Friday afternoon without a body ever being discovered, Blankswade said.

In a tweet announcing the end of Friday morning’s search, the sheriff’s office said it would continue to work with local authorities and follow up on any additional information.

A UW athletic department spokesman said the team is aware of the situation and is in the process of gathering more information.

According to a tweet from the sheriff’s office, it responded at 3 p.m. Thursday to a report of a possible drowning at Half Moon Bay, where friends saw the male unresponsive after falling off the boogie board. Two helicopters, two boats and first responders aided in the search. By Thursday night, the search was called off because of visibility issues and high surf conditions. Heavy fog was in the area, according to KTVU.

KTVU reported Moi Moi was at the beach with friends as part of a celebration before graduating high school.

3pm on 4/18/19 SMCSO deputies responded to a possible drowning of an 18y/o male Hayward resident in Half Moon Bay. After falling off his boogie board, friends saw him in the water unresponsive. 2 helicopters, 2 boats, & first responders currently searching. Updates to follow. pic.twitter.com/LduxUhbeXx

— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) April 19, 2019

After an extensive search we are switching from a rescue to a water recovery. Search efforts have concluded at this time due to the lack of visibility & high surf conditions, & the probability of detection. We are working with the family & will continue to be a resource for them.

— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) April 19, 2019

We have resumed a search in HMB this morning based on a possible sighting of the 18y/o Hayward man in the water off Poplar Beach. Dense fog is still an issue, but we have a boat & jet ski in the water actively searching. We will provide updates ASAP & a news release to follow.

— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) April 19, 2019

We have concluded the search on the waters in Half Moon Bay. We will continue to work with local authorities to be on the look out & follow up on any information we receive.

Thank you to everyone who assisted with the search efforts.

— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) April 19, 2019

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Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter


College Sports Reporter

Davis Potter is the University of Wyoming athletics reporter. An Alabama native and 2011 Auburn University graduate, Potter joined the Star-Tribune in 2018 after five years covering Ole Miss and the Southeastern Conference. He lives in Laramie.

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