Wyoming football recruit feared drowned on California coast

Posted at 7:18 PM, Apr 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-20 00:34:35-04

HALF MOON BAY (CBS SF) — The search for an 18-year-old high school senior from Hayward feared drowned in waters off Half Moon Bay has been concluded without his body being located, CBS affiliate KPIX-TV of San Francisco reports.

A candlelight vigil was set for Friday evening for Naphtali Moimoi, a star athlete on the Hayward High School football team who was slated to play for the University of Wyoming in the fall on a full scholarship as a defensive tackle.

Moimoi was on a spring break outing and was boogie-boarding with friends at Poplar Beach Thursday when a wave knocked him off his board. His friends told police they saw him facedown in the water and that they were unable to reach him before he disappeared.

Naphtali Moimoi (University of Wyoming)

A frantic search by rescue crews was eventually declared a recovery effort Thursday evening. The search for Moimoi’s body resumed Friday morning after it was suspended because of darkness and surf conditions Thursday night.

Later Friday, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office announced it had concluded its search.

Family members were in Half Moon Bay hoping to bring his body home Friday.

“Everybody is trying to stay strong. We just want him to come home with us. We don’t want to drag this out too long,” said his mother, Lisa Moimoi. “I just don’t want him to be out there alone, that’s what I was hoping for, but who knows.”

“Yesterday we suffered a tremendous loss. A young man was taken away too soon. His perseverance, loyalty and strength inspired all of us. His future was limitless. We grieve his loss but know that our lives are forever changed by his influence,” Hayward High Farmers football posted on Twitter Friday.

The sheriff’s office is still treating the case as a missing persons report because they haven’t located a body, sheriff’s spokesman Rosemerry Blankswade said, but there are no plans to start up another search at this time.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s office was helped in the search by the U.S. Coast Guard, Cal Fire, the Harbor Patrol and the California Highway Patrol.

Story by KPIX-TV, San Francisco, Calif.