George Washington University officials said that one of its students with Connecticut ties is missing in South Africa where he was involved in a study abroad program.
The university officials said junior Nicholas Upton, of Redding went missing in Cape Town. He was last seen swimming in the Eastern Cape Province on Sunday.
“We are closely monitoring this situation and are in touch with his family. We continue to hope and pray for Nicholas’ safe return,” the university said in a statement on Monday.
Authorities in Cape Town have been searching the area for Upton.
It appears six students from a group of 11 were on a spring vacation and went to swim at about 11 p.m. on Sunday near a lodge where they were staying.
That is when Upton went missing in the surf "after appearing to get into difficulty in the surf line," South African officials said.
On Monday, South African emergency officials said in a statement "the teenager is missing and he is now presumed to have drowned."
It has been an incredibly difficult 24 hours for Upton's family.
"He's caring. He's smart. He's very driven. He knows exactly what he wants to do," said Upton's mother Margaret Mirowski, who added that her son was loving his study abroad program. "He was loving it. He was so excited."
Mirowski said her son's friends tried to do everything they could to help him.
"They went to get a boat. The boat wouldn't start so they got a surf board ran over to where he was and he wasn't there," she said.
Police will continue an ongoing search operation and are investigating the incident.
Upton is an international affairs major in GW's Elliott School of International Affairs.
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