Family maintains hope that 18-year-old swept away in Florida rip current will return home

Update (March 13): On Monday, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Benjamin Pierre Gilles' body was found at a beach several miles away from where he went missing. Anyone with information was asked to contact BCSO's homicide unit. 

Original story

The U.S. Coast Guard announced the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has suspended the search for an 18-year-old who was swept away in the water Friday.

The teenager’s family knows he was carried away in the water, but says they still believe he’s out there somewhere – maybe trying to make it back from a different shore.  

Benjamin Pierre Gilles was about to graduate from Cypress Hill High School. His family says he came to Indialantic Beach on a Spring Break trip with friends, and never came back.

Josephine Mambwe says Benjamin is her cousin, and her best friend.

"He’s like my brother," she told FOX 35. "He’s a very sweet, caring, nice, thoughtful, and very funny person."

She’s one of several family members who’ve been waiting day and night at Indialantic Beach since their 18-year-old relative went missing Friday. 

"He was kind, loving, and giving. He was just somebody that you would be proud of," his aunt told FOX 35. 

After crews from seven different agencies looked for Benjamin over a total of 106 square miles, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office decided to suspend the search.  

The Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator with the Coast Guard’s Jacksonville Sector said in a statement, "Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders and it is never made lightly."

"We haven’t lost all hope," Benjamin’s aunt said Sunday evening. "We’re praying that we’ll get something, because it’s the most difficult thing to just lost somebody and not have something to console you."

The National Weather Service says the risks for rip tides are high in the area right now. Signs at the beach and on nearby boardwalks warn about them. Benjamin’s family believes that may have contributed to him being lost in the water.