A ‘parent’s worst nightmare.’ How to help a Merced County family’s search for missing son

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Here are a few tips on how to file a report if a loved one or friend has gone missing.

Family members of a Merced County man who went missing off the California coast have not given up their search.

Tyler Collins, 28, went missing about 4:20 a.m. on March 26, while swimming off of Rockaway Beach in Pacifica near San Francisco, according to the Pacifica Police Department.

While authorities have dialed back their search, family and friends have continued their own search for Collins since arriving on March 26. A Gofundme account was established and has raised $17,050 as of Tuesday morning, which has helped fund the search.

Tyler Collins Photo submitted by Collins family

According to Collins’ mother, Jeannie Collins, the family has hired helicopters twice to search the area and also hired a zephyr boat. Drones also have been used and Collins says there have been up to 60 people helping out.

“We’ve had people on foot, walking 15 miles in each direction,” Collins said. “You have that dream that you’re going to go out and see him on a rock. He’s such a great athlete. He’s a snowboarder, surfer, jogger. He started mountain climbing. If anyone would survive this, it would be him.”

Tyler Collins was staying at a nearby hotel with friends when he and another person decided to swim early that morning, police said. They were roughly 50 feet off of the shore when it became clear that Collins was missing.

After a search by the Coast Guard, police officers and North County Fire Authority firefighters came up empty, the Gofundme account was started. Nearly $10,000 was raised within the first 24 hours.

“It’s amazing. It’s nice to know you have some support. People love Tyler,” said Jeannie Collins, who lives in Los Banos. “He’s so happy-go-lucky. He has a gypsy soul. He’s lived all over. He’s never afraid to pack up his things and move.”

Tyler Collins graduated from Dos Palos High in 2009. He played football and baseball in high school.

According to his mother, Collins graduated from UC Santa Barbara last year, earning an archeology degree. He was recently living in Lake Tahoe.

“This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Jeannie Collins said.

Talking to locals, she said that area is known for riptides and undercurrents. Spending the past week walking up and down the beach, Collins is surprised there aren’t more signs warning about the riptides.

“It’s hard to think that your kid is out in that big ocean,” Jeannie Collins said. “You have that hope, but talking to everyone here, the temperature of the water is so cold. This place is known for the undercurrents. They have one little sign, but from what you hear this is the worst place in the world for riptides.”