Los Angeles

Father Mourns Army Vet Found Dead at Beach

The father of a missing swimmer was in mourning after the coroner's office confirmed to him the body that washed ashore at Dockweiler State Beach Wednesday was his son who went missing eight days before.

Derrick Jeffries, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, went missing in the water near Manhattan Beach's Tower 18 last Tuesday.

Jeffries' father was at their home in Hawthorne when he received the news.

His son's body was found at Dockweiler Beach, about two miles north of where he disappeared.

He described a dream he had just had before hearing the news that his boy's body was found.

"He walked up and he was like,'Dad whatcha doing?' I told him, 'We're looking for you,'" Gilbert Jeffries said. "And he said, 'Don't worry about me -- I'm OK.'"

He said his heart was at peace in that moment.

"I knew he wasn't going to be walking out of the ocean, but I was just looking for closure."

Every day since his son, "DJ," vanished in the water more than a week ago, his family has been searching at the beach and hoping.

Just before 1 p.m. Wednesday, a body washed ashore at Dockweiler Beach. His family collapsed in grief as they learned the news.

"I'm in shock but at the same time, I'm relieved because I'm not going home everyday leaving that beach not knowing where he is," Gilbert said.

Gilbert said his son was a fun-loving, independent young man who as a child loved the water.

"He loved the ocean and that's the way he went home," Gilbert said.

Even in the midst of his grief, Gilbert, a man of faith, expresses gratitude.

"Those divers that kept going in that water -- I watched how exhausted they were but they wouldn't give up because that could have been my son down there," Gilbert said. "It hurts but at the same time, God is good and he don't make mistakes."

Gilbert said he never saw his son in uniform, only in pictures. He said he feels proud that his will be laid to rest with a military burial.

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