James Poindexter, 27 of New port Richey, went missing while swimming near the Clearwater Pass (Sand Key) Bridge on Labor Day, September 2, 2013. James pictured here with his son, courtesy of his family.
CLEARWATER, Florida -- It's was a massive response; Clearwater Fire Rescue and Police converged on Sand Key to search for a man who went under the water within seconds.
James Poindexter, 27, was swimming in water up to his chest. His family on the beach heard his screams for help.
"He went out walking into the water and he must have caught something underneath, and he was calling for help and we couldn't reach him. Just kept asking, 'please help me, please help me,'" said Selina Sierra, Poindexter's mother-in-law.
A family friend swimming closest to James was the first to try and reach him. Others jumped into the water as well in a desperate attempt to pull him up.
"Other people jumped in the water to try and help while someone on shore dialed 911," said Sierra.
Within seconds, dive teams were in the water. Coast Guard and Pinellas sheriff's choppers were in the air. Cops cleared the beach while the family watched, hoping and praying for a miracle.
After five hours, dive teams found nothing. The search was suspended shortly after sunset. The family, huddling together, held each other closely for support. The grim reality set in.
"I'm just really upset. There should have been lifeguards out here," said Sierra. "This is a place where lots of people are coming to go swimming, and yeah, you should have lifeguards, of course you should."
It is possible that rip currents could have been a factor. Click here for tips on surviving a rip current.