The teenagers had gone to the San Lorenzo Beach in northern Spain on Tuesday afternoon, when they went in to the water, despite yellow flags warning of potentially high surf or dangerous currents.
Yencer de los Santos Germosen, and his 16-year-old girlfriend, who has not been named, were being pulled out to sea by the currents and were heard screaming for help.
Members of a nearby regatta heard the couple’s pleas and contacted the emergency services just before 3pm.
Rescuers on jet skis managed to save the girl, but Yencer had already disappeared.
A search team scoured the area with the help of a helicopter, boats, jet skis and four scuba divers, according to reports.
Yencer’s body was eventually found by an off-duty lifeguard on a popular stretch of beach called ‘La Rampla’ at around 12.30am.
The victim’s uncle told local media: “My nephew tried to reach her [his girlfriend], but it seems in trying to help her he was unable to help himself.”
According to local media, the sea conditions and lack of lifeguards have resulted in a number of incidents in the area.