Three days after 18-year-old Joseph Sanchez went missing off the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes while diving with friends, his parents are still holding on to hope.
As officials began calling the search for Sanchez a recovery effort, both parents said they believe their adventurous son is still out there somewhere.
“I know he's out there and the good Lord is going to bring him back to me,” Adriana Sanchez
said Friday at the family’s Long Beach home. “Unless I see him, this is not real, this is a bad nightmare and I'm about to wake up."
Joseph Sanchez’s parents say they have not been able to sleep. They have been clutching onto his photo and praying, keeping in close contact with relatives who are near the site where their son went missing.
“I love my son with all my heart. I cannot believe... I cannot forget him,” Joseph’s father, Jose Sanchez, said through tears.
Candles now burn through the day and night outside their home, left from a vigil for the missing teen Thursday night.
Another vigil is planned for Saturday evening at a North Long Beach church.
At Abalone Cove, where Joseph and his friends were diving into the ocean when he and a friend were swept into a cave by strong currents, search and rescue helicopters and dive teams continue their search Friday.
Divers searching for his body had been watching changing ocean conditions Friday night as high tides were expected to reach 7 feet by 9 p.m.
While visibility improved for searching, the swells added challenges to their recovery mission.
"The swells are up and they're going to be up through the weekend," said Sgt. Thomas Giandomenico of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "Our goal is to time it so the current (and) tide is going to be the best of our advantage."
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has closed the cove through the weekend, and dangerous currents and tides are expected up and down the SoCal coast until Sunday.
Adriana Sanchez said she hopes other teens who visit the cove learn from what her family is going through.
“They paint a nice picture but it's very dangerous out there,” she said. “Let this be a lesson for them. Know that I'm going through a lot of pain right now and that I might not be able to even see my son.”
A beach hazards statement remains in effect through Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m. for the Los Angeles County coast.