'Polar Plunge' With Friends Goes Terribly Wrong

San Francisco State student Hamzah Alsaudi missing after wave swept him off California coast
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2023 8:53 AM CST

A "polar plunge" with friends off the coast of California went terribly wrong for a local college student who never made it out of the ocean. Per a Pacifica Police Department release cited by CBS News, Hamzah Alsaudi, 22, a senior and wrestler at San Francisco State, headed to Esplanade Beach in Pacifica on Thursday morning with two friends to take a dip in the chilly waters. At around 10:30am local time, police received a call that Alsaudi had been "struck by a large wave and pulled farther away from the shore." His two companions, said to be teammates from the school's wrestling team, made it out of the water and called 911.

After police and firefighters couldn't immediately locate Alsaudi, they recruited the assistance of lifeguards, a California Highway Patrol air unit, a drone from the San Bruno Police Department, and the US Coast Guard, which sent an aircraft and surface vessel to help look for the student. A local says she came across Alsaudi's distraught teammates during her morning walk, after they'd made their way out of the water. "I think he was shaking so bad because of what was going on, not because it was cold," Diana Compin tells KTVU of one of the students, who told her he'd tried in vain to look for his missing friend. "This poor kid was just not together."

The outlet notes that some of Alsaudi's friends indicated he wasn't a strong swimmer. Per a release from SF State's wrestling team, "authorities are no longer actively searching for Hamzah, and he is considered missing." CBS reports that Alsaudi, who was born in Baghdad, was a political science major, with a minor in Arab studies. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Gator community right now as we process this news," the wrestling team's release notes, adding that counseling is available for Alsaudi's teammates, classmates, and other community members who know him. (Read more missing student stories.)

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