Redding Native Missing in South Africa Presumed Dead: Rescuers

A 19-year-old Connecticut native and junior at George Washington University is believed to have drowned in South Africa, where he disappeared while studying abroad, according to the National Sea Rescue Institute.

Nicholas Upton, 19, a college junior who graduated from Joel Barlow High School in Redding and interned for Sen. Richard Blumenthal, was last seen swimming in the East Cape Province around 10:30 p.m. local time Sunday, or 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, according to a statement from the university.

Upton has been studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and was traveling with five other people during a break from classes.

According to the National Sea Rescue Institute, a volunteer organization, Upton began struggling in the surf and disappeared into the water. The other group members reached out to resort staff, who contacted police. Rescue crews sent out a helicopter team to search for Upton but saw no sign of him.

"The teenager is missing and he is now presumed to have drowned," the NSRI said in a news release Monday.

Cape Town authorities continue to search for Upton and are coordinating with study abroad program representatives, Upton's family and the U.S. Embassy, according to officials with GW.

"We are closely monitoring this situation and are in touch with his family. We continue to hope and pray for Nicholas’ safe return," university officials said.

According to the NSRI, a police helicopter, K-9 search-and-rescue team and dive unit will continue looking for Upton on Tuesday, depending on weather conditions.

Blumenthal said he is aware and has been in touch with Upton's family.

"We are working with the family trying to determine more of the facts in a very difficult situation," Blumenthal said in a statement Monday. "Our hearts and prayers are with them for Nick, who is a remarkable young man."

Upton is a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and the GW men's rowing team, according to Kappa Alpha's Facebook page and the GW Hatchet.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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