The body of a 22-year-old airman who went missing Sunday in the waters off Texas in the Gulf of Mexico was found by his family Tuesday on a nearby beach, according to the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office.
Elijah Posana, and airman with the U.S. Air Force, was last seen alive swimming in the waters off Surfside Beach near Freeport, about 60 miles south of Houston, before he was caught by a rip current about 100 feet from shore, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.
Varon Snelgrove, Chief Deputy of the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, told NBC News on Wednesday that Posana’s death appears to be a drowning and no foul play is suspected.
“The family, on the beach yesterday shortly after daylight, 7 a.m., they found the body of Mr. Posana,” Snelgrove said. “It washed up onto our county beach about 3 miles north from where he had gone in the water, which is consistent with the way the wind and the current were going.”
Snelgrove said Posana had been missing since the early afternoon Sunday.
“There is no evidence other than it was a tragic accident and a drowning,” he said.
The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy to determine Posana’s cause and manner of death, Snelgrove said.
In a statement Monday, U.S. Coast Guard officials announced they suspended looking for Posana after a 28-hour search involving multiple nautical and air units. The Coast Guard also received help from two local police departments, including the Brazoria County’s Sheriff’s Office.
"The decision to suspend a search is always an extremely difficult one to make," Coast Guard Capt. Jason Smith said in a statement. Smith is also the Sector Houston-Galveston commanding officer.
"Every time we run a search and rescue case, we think of the missing as our own, and in this case, the missing is a fellow service member which definitely weighs heavily on our hearts," Smith said. "Our deepest condolences go out to the airman's family and friends."
NBC News affiliate KPRC—TV in Houston reported that Posana’s father, Ernesto Posana, said he discovered his son’s body.
“No one was searching for him,” the elder Posana said. He also told the news outlet his son was vacationing with family while on a three-week leave from his station in Missouri.