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Redding Family Traveling To South Africa After Search Ends For Missing Son

Nicholas Upton, 19, is a 2013 graduate of Joel Barlow High School. He went missing while swimming of the coast of South Africa and has presumed to have drowned.
Nicholas Upton, 19, is a 2013 graduate of Joel Barlow High School. He went missing while swimming of the coast of South Africa and has presumed to have drowned. Photo Credit: George Washington University

REDDING, Conn. — After rescuers called off the search for a missing 19-year-old student from Redding, his parents are planning to travel to South Africa to conduct a search of their own, according to NBC Connecticut .

Nicholas Upton, 19, a junior at George Washington University is presumed to have drowned after he was pulled away by a riptide while swimming in the East Cape Province at about 11 p.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the university.

Upton, a 2013 graduate of Joel Barlow High School in Redding, was studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He was on a spring vacation at a holiday lodge on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape with 11 other students, according to the National Sea Rescue Institute.

A total of six students went swimming and got  into difficulty in the surf line, the NSRI said.

Upton's mother, Margaret Mirowski of Redding, said rescue crews sent out divers and helicopters but called off the search Tuesday, according to NBC Connecticut.

Mirowski said she and her husband, Jim Upton, will fly to South Africa on Wednesday and launch a search of her own, NBC Connecticut said. A GoFundMe page has been set up to pay for their trip.

"Rescue efforts were delayed due to poor conditions and possibly slow response from African authorities," says the GoFundMe page. "Please help by contributing what you can to help defray travel and possibly search and rescue costs. ... Pray for a miracle. Help bring Nick home."

Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski echoed that in a statement.

"We continue to hope and pray for Nicholas’ safe return,"  Konwerski said.

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton put up a post at the NSRI site. "Thank you for your efforts to search for Nick. Please resume the search as soon as possible and do not stop until he is found," she said.

But a statement from the NSRI said: "The teenager is missing and he is now presumed to have drowned."

Upton interned with the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

"We are working with the family trying to determine more of the facts in a very difficult situation," Blumenthal said in a statement. "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. His major is international affairs with a concentration in African studies.

Read the full story here at the NBC Connecticut website . To contribute to the campaign, visit this website .

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