Family 'devastated' as search called off for man last seen in sea off West Wittering

Ryan Baldry was with friends at West Wittering on Monday night when he was last seen in the water. Credit: Family handout

The family of a 19-year-old man who went missing after getting into difficulty in the sea at West Wittering in West Sussex say they are "devastated" as the search for him has been called off.

Ryan Baldry from Lavant near Chichester was at the popular beach with friends, when the group got into difficulty in the water. He was last seen at around 8pm on Monday night (4 September).

An emergency search involving the Coastguard, RNLI and a search helicopter had been underway but has since been stood down.

Ryan Baldry, 19, was last seen in the water at West Wittering beach on Monday night. (4 September) Credit: Family handout

A family member, posting on social media, said: "After all the efforts from coast guard and many rescue services coast guard have now had to stand down their search.

"Ryan was out having fun with his friends and got into trouble when he went into what he thought was ‘okay’ waters - a friend of Ryan’s who is a much stronger swimmer managed to get out and tried to get back in to help Ryan but the tide was too strong and pulled them apart.

"Ryan is still a missing person and will be until we find him. Ryan’s parents and brothers are all devastated but are so grateful to all of you for sharing this and trying to help. Please keep Ryan and his family in your thoughts and prayers."

Search teams pictured at West Wittering beach on Tuesday. (5 September) Credit: ITV Meridian

Posting on social media previously, a member of Ryan's family appealed for help to find him, releasing a recent photo.

The post read: "Ryan’s parents and family are worried sick. We have Ryan’s phone so he has no way of contacting us. Please please please share this post.

"We are praying for our Ryan’s Safe return."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...