JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The father of 11-year-old Na'im Boykin, the boy swept out into the water on Little Talbot Island Saturday afternoon, says "the current kept taking him."
The Coast Guard called off the search on Sunday and Na'im's body has yet to be found.
Na'im's father, Diwani Boykin, was close enough to see the water take his son.
"I saw the panic in his eyes, that's when I ran and jumped in the water. So when another gentleman saw me run in the water, that's when he noticed my son was a little further out and we both jumped in the water. (We)tried to swim towards him, but the current was too strong for the both of us," Boykin said.
He was shocked when rescue crews called off the search on Sunday.
"I'm not going to give up hope. And I just hope that people continue to pray for us. And for family members that's not from the area, just please take caution and listen to the signs and be aware."
Na'im is from Thomasville, Georgia, and was on vacation with his father, Diwani, who lives in the Bronx, New York. He said Na'im had graduated Friday from the fifth grade at J.K. Harper Elementary in Thomasville.
The day of the accident, he says it was just another day at the beach and they didn't really pay attention to warning signs about rough water.
"I'm not from the area and I just thought that it would be a regular day at the beach for us. But I should have been paying more attention to the signs, and the news."
FWC used a side-scan radar towed behind a boat to search. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team searched the water most of Sunday.
There was an elevated rip-current danger as the boy disappeared into the surf about a half-hour after high tide. Witnesses say several people saw what happened and tried to help but the strong current made it difficult.
For hours, officials with at least four different agencies worked to find the boy. There were as many as six boats and two helicopters.
He said Na'im was such a happy boy and the two would always go on trips to the beach and theme parks together.
The boy's aunt told News4Jax she is thankful for the support and prayers the family has gotten from the community.
The rip current risk continued Monday along area beaches.