New Albany resident missing off Costa Rica
NEW ALBANY — A Mississippi teenager is missing off Costa Rica after a Pacific Ocean wave washed him out to sea Sunday night hours after he arrived with others on a mission trip.
Marshaun Braxton, 17, was one of 15 members of First United Methodist Church in New Albany. He and several friends decided to take a walk next to the Pacific after they had arrived in Villa Briceno.
The teens stopped on a rock next to the ocean. A wave crashed down on them, taking several into the ocean, said the Rev. Jerry Beam, district superintendent of the United Methodist Church.
“They tried to hang on to Marshaun but just couldn’t do it,” Beam said.
After the teens were swept into the ocean, someone showed them how to get back to shore, but Braxton, who can swim, couldn’t fight the tide, said his aunt, Vera Braxton.
“They told us there’s little hope after 24 hours. I just hope they find the body,” she said.
Braxton’s legal guardian and grandmother, Elenora Howell, did not want to talk about the accident. Rather, she talked about how her grandson was a churchgoing football player who stayed out of trouble.
“He tutored schoolchildren at the church … he was on the football team and ran track,” Howell said Monday.
The Costa Rican navy was combing the area in search of Braxton.
The Methodist church group was in Costa Rica to help build a gymnasium and a sanctuary. Beam said all but two who went are scheduled to fly back today, while the others will remain to attend to legalities.
Kim Day, a Sunday school teacher who had mentored Braxton for several years, said the rising high school senior was an “exceptional person.”
“He was musically gifted, smart and a fine churchgoer,” Day said. “He was a leader in our church.”
Braxton had saved up at least $1,500, working at a movie store, to afford the trip to Costa Rica, Vera Braxton said.
Beam reported his office had been in contact with Sen. Roger Wicker for help dealing with the logistics of an American missing outside its borders.
“Gayle and I were deeply saddened to hear the tragic news from Costa Rica regarding Marshaun Braxton,” Wicker said in a news release.