By Dillon Thomas
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– Just 24 hours after a Colorado State University student went missing in the Gulf of Mexico, fellow CSU Rams are learning about what lead up to the incident.
Business student Jie Luo, an international student from China, went missing in the gulf Tuesday, while swimming. Luo was said to have been swimming aside a party boat, one which he took while celebrating spring break with classmates near Tampa, Fla.
“[Students] jumped in. Luo had trouble getting back to the boat,” a spokesman with knowledge of the situation said. “The current was very strong, and the current was going out into the Gulf.”
Staff members aboard the boat noticed the issue, and one jumped in to help.
“It was obvious that Luo was in distress, and one of the crew members, Andrew Dillman, without any life preservers, without any life-saving devices, without anything jumped into the water trying to rescue Luo,” the spokesman said.
Parents of students who were also in the area said their children reported very strong winds, and bad weather conditions. One CSU student even elected to not go in the water near the beach, due to bad conditions.
The U.S. Coast Guard was called in to search for the pair on Wednesday. Crews used both helicopters and boats to search for Dillman and Luo. Recovery efforts have proved unsuccessful as of Wednesday evening.
As the Coast Guard continued their search, CSU was notified of the incident.
Professors in the business school confirmed Luo, 21, was one of their students, but would not comment on the search.
CSU Spokesman Mike Hooker told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the university did reach out to Luo’s family in China. The Panilla County Sheriff’s Office also spoke to the family. The family told deputies they were not sure if they could fly to Florida for the search.
“This is a hard time for the Ram community,” Hooker said.
Hooker said the university remained optimistic for a miraculous outcome. In the meantime, school officials have also contacted some of Luo’s fellow CSU classmates who were on the trip, to see what the university could to to help.
“Our thoughts, and our hopes, for the best possible outcome are with his family and friends, and the searchers right now continuing to work for these two missing people,” Hooker said.
First responders to the incident confirmed Wednesday that several varieties of alcohol were found aboard the ship Luo was on. A spokesman said alcohol may have played a factor in Luo’s disappearance but that the investigation was ongoing.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.