A group of five friends went down to the sea's edge at Brighton Beach in Sussex, England, at 1am Saturday, and only three emerged. After a dare to stand at the waterfront, 23-year-old Dan Nicholls was knocked off his feet by a large wave in severe weather and swept to sea; 24-year-old Freddie Reynolds partially stripped and jumped in after his friend. "Their shocked friends tried to enter the water but were beaten back by the waves," says a police rep. "Tragically they saw Dan and Freddie together before they lost sight of them and called for the help of emergency services." A body believed to be Reynolds' was swept ashore four miles up the beach the next afternoon, while the search is still on for Nicholls, reports the Telegraph.
Two rescue teams coordinated a three-hour search that included two all-weather lifeboats, a rescue helicopter, and two shoreline rescue teams, reports the BBC, calling it quits when the coast guard said they had "exhausted all possible options." "The conditions for searching overnight were awful—it was pitch black and the sea was extremely choppy," says a coast guard spokesman. "It was very difficult to search." Reynolds' family said in a statement that the young man was a "very loyal and brilliant friend" and that his loss would leave a "huge void in a lot of people's lives." Nicholls' family described him as "very bright" and "well-loved by many." The two had been school friends. (This fisherman recently survived 12 days lost at sea.)