Teen’s drowning a first for Gulf Shores this year

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) – The search for a missing Louisiana teenager continued throughout the day Monday. Chaston Brown, 17, disappeared into the Gulf of Mexico Sunday afternoon.

“There’s nothing really you can do about it. I mean, you lose sleep over it, you just sit up and think about it. You go through just the thoughts that you’ll never see your friend again, your brother, you know?” Tyler Miller, a friend of Brown’s said.

It’s a sad reality for Miller and his friends who watched Brown disappear before their eyes.

“You know, he wasn’t the best swimmer, that’s why we didn’t have him go so deep. But what we believe is that a sandbar, you know, they shift whenever the waves come through. So we’re thinking it was all sitting on a sandbar. It was about 50 yards out and the sandbar just came out from under him,” Miller said.

Miller said they struggled to pull Brown out of the water, but a wave knocked the former Ponchatoula High School cornerback off the shoulders of one of them.

Brown’s brother Carzell said he was in shock when they got the call Sunday night.

“We was like heartbroken. We didn’t even know what to do. We just like prayed. Prayed and prayed just hoping that he would be like holding onto something. I don’t even know,” Carzell said.

The Gulf Shores Police Dive Team was out in the water at times Monday and was assisted by Orange Beach via their fire boat and its side-sonar scanner. The water based search was suspended around 3 p.m. when the rip current risk became too high for divers.

Officials said this is the fourth drowning along the Baldwin County coast and the first in Gulf Shores this year. Gulf Shores police said the issue isn’t a lack of equipment or staff, but rather a lack of knowledge.

“I mean, we’ve got what we need, the issue is more along the lines of people being aware of the water conditions before they go into the water,” Cpl. Josh Coleman said.

Red flags were flying Sunday starting around 2:45 p.m., according to the Gulf Coast Police’s Twitter feed and were switched over to double red near 5 p.m. when they received multiple swimmer in distress calls.

The search for Brown’s body will resume in full Tuesday.

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