18-Year-Old Dies After Rescuing 2 Friends Who 'Encountered Trouble' While Swimming in Ocean
The loved ones of a New York teen have been left heartbroken after he died while heroically rescuing two of his friends who were having trouble swimming in rocky ocean waters.
Jalan Alston went missing on Friday after jumping into the ocean to save two of his friends who "encountered trouble in the water" at Ventnor Beach in New Jersey, according to a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard.
A search for the 18-year-old was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and later suspended following more than 12 hours, but family members told USA Today that his body was eventually recovered.
"He would do things for you, so it's not far out there that he did this," his brother Mark Alston told the outlet. "He's not here because he wanted to save people."
According to the Coast Guard, the search began on Friday around 7 p.m. after receiving a report of a 911 call from a woman who said "she and another friend made it to shore after an 18-year-old male member of their party assisted them by swimming and pushing them towards land after they encountered trouble in the water."
Coast Guard personnel, along with the Ventnor City Police Department, immediately responded to the incident and set out to look for Jalan over air, land and sea, the press release stated.
Officials searched 58-square-miles over 13 hours before announcing on Saturday that they had suspended the search for the missing swimmer, pending development of new information.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Jalan," Capt. Jonathan Theel, commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, said in a statement. "It's always difficult to suspend a case and it weighs especially heavy on our hearts knowing that he was helping others."
On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed to PEOPLE that the Ventnor Police Department in New Jersey recovered Jalan's body at approximately 10 p.m. on Saturday, just hours after the search was suspended.
Speaking to USA Today, Mark explained that the tragedy unfolded as a result of the rocky waters from Tropical Storm Fay.
He called his younger brother "really caring" and full of potential, noting how he recently graduated from George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn, wanted to pursue a career in engineering, and was planning to take the civil service exam in the fall.
Following the tragedy, a GoFundMe page for Jalan's family was set up by Jayda Smith, one of the friends who was rescued in the rocky waters.
"Jalan Alston saved both me and Sierra’s lives from the rip current off the Jersey shore," she wrote on the page. "He selflessly and almost instinctively jumped into the current after me, pushed me out and got me to shore. He then tried to get back to the shore with Sierra’s help, but to no prevail."
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"He understood what was happening, grabbed her wrist and shook his head, then with a push sent her to the shore with me using his last bit of strength he had," she continued. "It’s because of him that I am here, sharing his story to the world."
Smith said Jalan had "such a beautiful soul and spirit, heart and mind," and noted that because he "gave me a second chance" she would be using it "to make his life, his legacy rememberable, starting here."
Since launching the page on Sunday evening, it has raised over $5,000 — funds which Smith said will go towards helping Jalan's family "create a beautiful funeral for him."
"Jalan will forever be in our hearts and our minds; we promise to make him proud. Rest easy, Jalan Alston," she wrote.