San Diego

Body recovered during search was missing San Diego man: family, officials

Authorities said Víctor Osvaldo Villareal Garcia was last seen Friday swimming against the current in the area of Real Mediterraneo, north of Playas de Rosarito

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Authorities and family on Tuesday confirmed they found the body of San Diego man who was last seen swimming back to his sailboat from a beach in Tijuana last Friday,

The body of Víctor Osvaldo Villareal Garcia, 27 of San Diego, was found amid rescue efforts with lifeguards from firefighters from Tijuana and Rosarito, Civil Protection personnel and dozens of volunteers on both sides of the border who searched by sea and sky for him.

Around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Tijuana Fire Department reported the discovery of a body and moments later, they stopped the search operation. Although authorities did not immediately release the identity of the body, a family member confirmed the discovery on social media. Around 4:30 p.m., the Baja California prosecutor's office officially confirmed that they had located the body of Victor Villareal.

Authorities said he was last seen Friday swimming against the current in the area of Real Mediterraneo, north of Playas de Rosarito.

The man disappeared while swimming near Tijuana over the holiday weekend.

Villareal Garcia had rented a boat in Coronado and a house in Playas de Tijuana to enjoy over Spring Break with his family. However, he disappeared south of the border over Easter weekend while he was trying to reach the sailboat with a dinghy in order to sail back to the United States.

"He wanted to go and deliver [the sailboat] to the place where he rented it, which was in Coronado, but at the time, his dinghy didn't work so he decided to swim to the sailboat. Some fishermen told us that they saw him swimming against the current and that he was close to reaching the sailboat. That was between 4 and 6 p.m. on Friday," recalled Naomi, Villareal Garcia's cousin.

According to his relatives, it was not until the next day they realized he was missing as they did not have any contact with Villareal Garcia.

Even into Tuesday, relatives had not lost hope of locating him alive.

"We obviously want to rest, we continue with high faith and in God that we are going to find him alive. He was used to fasting for three days, doing four hours of gym daily, we believe that due to the lifestyle that he was carrying, we have faith and hope that we will find him alive," said Naome García, Victor's cousin.

Photographs of Villareal Garcia and his tattoos started circulating on social media throughout the weekend.

Samuel Peña, the young man's uncle, explained that Joaquín, Villareal Garcia's brother, was the last one to see him, "He says he saw him still swimming. It became dark and the sailboat had its lights turned on, so Joaquín thought he was resting inside the sailboat."

Peña explained that on Saturday they called someone to check to see if Villareal Garcia was still in the sailboat. That's when they realized that, "Víctor wasn't there, just his belongings. What happens is that that sailboat has -- or I don't know if every boat is like that -- but they have those lamps that turn on automatically as it gets dark and that's why [Joaquín] thought that [Villareal Garcia] was there."

Since the report he was missing was received on Saturday at 3:45 p.m., lifeguards conducted a tour of the surrounding area, but the rains and strong gusts of wind made entry impossible. On Sunday, a new operation was carried out, where the dinghy was located, the small boat with which he reached the shore in the first instance and had had mechanical failures.

This Monday, the sailboat that remained anchored at the site was towed to the United States, where Víctor had rented it. Authorities set up a command and control center at the site to coordinate the location efforts, who, with a search pattern from the Secretary of the Navy, the agencies and volunteers were divided into four areas of the coast to search for Víctor.

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