The Coast Guard this morning said they are still scouring the waters near Jacob Riis beach looking for the boy, who grew up in Mill Basin.
The teen, Scott McLeish was apparently swimming with friends, and had climbed on a buddy's back, despite the fact that he could not swim. When the teens dunked themsevles under the churning waves separated the friends just before sundown.
"He was trying to impress us," Anthony Muskelly, 16 told the Daily News. Muskelly described his friend Scott as a boxer. "He was a good athlete, but he couldn't swim."
Another of the teens friends Dervon Humphrey, also 16, said McLeish went neck-deep water with him and lost his footing when a powerful wave crashed ashore.
"We got sucked under and dragged out," Dervon told the Daily News reporters.
"At first I thought they were having fun," said Anthony. "But then Scott started screaming for help."
Dervon said he dived under water in a frantic attempt to push his friend toward shore, "I tried to save him. It was hard. He was struggling," Dervon said.
The teen noted the two struggled against the riptide for almost 20 minutes before one final wave overcame his friend. "I thought I was going to die, but the wave hit him, not me."
Witnesses say the teen got pulled underneath a rip current. By the time fire and police rescue teams arrived, they couldn't find him.
A police helicopter hovered above while divers searched beneath the Ocean surface. A total of 16 FDNY swimmers and four divers, along with NYPD units, searched a wide area until nightfall, when the search was downgraded to a recovery effort, said FDNY Deputy Chief Michael Halderman.
The FDNY and NYPD suspended the search just after 9 p.m., with plans to resume in the morning.
Jacob Riis Park beach saw three drownings last year.