The family of missing former WWE star Shad Gaspard have issued a statement “hoping and praying for his safe return” after the search into his disappearance was suspended.
Gaspard, 39, was pulled out to sea by a riptide whilst swimming with 10-year-old son Aryeh at Venice Beach, California, on Sunday.
Aryeh was rescued by lifeguards, but his father was pulled under by a wave and failed to re-emerge.
Local rescue teams continued to search for Gaspard until Tuesday morning, before reports from the U.S Coast Guard (via TMZ ) confirmed efforts have now been postponed.
The Gaspard family released the following statement shortly after: “We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coastguard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad.
“Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return.”
Gaspard – who achieved fame as one half of WWE tag team duo Cryme Tyme – went missing around 4pm local time on Sunday.
After directing lifeguards to help his son, Gaspard was dragged under the water, with officials confirming they saw him submerge.
Lifeguard for the LA County Fire Department, Kenichi Haskett, told The Mail : “We had one of our lifeguards go out to make a double rescue of a father and a son.
“The father unfortunately got pushed down by a wave as they were getting pulled out of the current.
“The lifeguard rescued and grabbed the boy, the son, and tried to grab the father as well.
“He ended up getting pushed down by a wave and we couldn’t find him and we immediately started with our rescue boats, called in additional lifeguards to search that location of his dad.”
Eyewitness reports claim Aryeh and his mother, Siliana Gaspard, were inconsolable when the youngster was returned to shore.
Aryeh was then taken away by an adult friend after around 15 minutes of looking for his father, leaving an agonising Siliana behind.
Divers and helicopters have since been searching the area, but to no avail.
TMZ’s report adds that whilst the missing persons case remains open, efforts to find Gaspard have been reduced dramatically.
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