News

Helicopter sighting proves to be false alarm

Rescue workers continue to search for Irish surfer Stuart Butler who disappeared when a surf with his mates at Cozy Corner, on the southern edge of Cape Byron, went tragically wrong in high seas on Saturday.

Rescue volunteers search on foot after blood was sighted on rocks at Cozy Corner, at the southern edge of Cape Byron. PHOTO: Megan Kinninment
Rescue volunteers search on foot after blood was sighted on rocks at Cozy Corner, at the southern edge of Cape Byron. PHOTO: Megan Kinninment

UPDATE 1.15pm: RESCUE crews searching for missing surfer Stuart Butler took to land this morning after the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter spotted what appeared to be blood on the rocks at Cozy Corner.

Five members of the Brunswick Valley Rescue group and a police officer went in on foot to inspect the discovery but reported finding nothing more than the blood, which appeared to have come from a fish someone had caught and scaled at the scene.

The helicopter and two jet skis continued to search around the Cape until 11am today.

Police Inspector Bobbie Cullen said officials were keeping Mr Butler's family in Australia updated on the search and they were relaying news to the family in Ireland. 

Far North Coast surf lifesaving searches for a missing surfer off the coast of Byron Bay near the Byron Bay Lighthouse after three surfers got into trouble, one remaining unaccounted for.
Far North Coast surf lifesaving searches for a missing surfer off the coast of Byron Bay near the Byron Bay Lighthouse after three surfers got into trouble, one remaining unaccounted for. Marc Stapelberg

6.41am: AFTER an intensive two-day search in heavy seas and strong winds, the fate of missing Irish-born surfer Stuart Butler remains unknown.

The search will resume at 7.30am today, but police now believe it has become a recovery operation.

A huge amount of resources from multiple rescue agencies were thrown into the search effort yesterday.

Police believed the missing 20-year-old may have either been caught on rocks or otherwise swept northwards as far as Brunswick Heads.

Three jetskis and a jet boat tasked from Surf Life Saving NSW roamed as heavy waves of up to three metres broke in front of the cliffs where the man was last seen.

But the jetskis were unable to safely get close enough to properly search the cliffs, and were called off at about 11.30am.

Several aircraft were also tasked to assist, including an Australian Search and Rescue fixed-wing plane with heat-sensitive scanners, which ran a sweep of the entire area north of Cape Byron to Brunswick Heads and three helicopters.

About 11am a team from the Brunswick Volunteer Rescue Squad staged the first of three vertical rescue drops off the Cape in an effort to find any evidence of the missing man or his surfboard. But all search efforts were officially called off by 1pm as weather conditions worsened.

"Police at this point ... are probably looking at more of a recovery due to the weather conditions and the swell," Tweed-Byron Local Area Command Inspector Bobbie Cullen said.

"But we're doing everything we can."

Inspector Cullen said an underwater search at the base of the cliffs by police divers would not be possible until at least Wednesday, when the dangerous conditions were expected to ease.

She noted that conditions at the base of the cliff were as cold as two degrees overnight and Mr Butler had not been wearing a wetsuit.

Meanwhile, distressed relatives of the missing surfer were left facing an agonising wait for news after the search was abandoned for yet another day.

After arriving on a plane from Melbourne, the relatives were briefed by lead detectives coordinating the search.

Topics:  cape byron, drowning, editors picks, surfing




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'My husband lasted 6 weeks as a stay at home dad'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images. Katie Dykes being interviewed for the webisodes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

FROM the outside, being a stay at home mum looks like a breeze.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

OPINION: How to prepare your child for day care

Your kids will love childcare, but it may take some adjusting.

GETTING your child ready for day care is vital.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

MISSING PERSON: Have you seen Sarah?

18 year old Sarah McDonald.

She was last seen on Monday leaving the Lismore Library

Doctor 'firmly advised' mother against home birth

An inquest into the home birth death of a baby at Nimbin is continuing in Lismore.

UPDATE: Inquest hears doctor was 'struck by the nonchalance'

An immense garden that is perfectly populated

Janet Frith-Hall and husband Michael making one of their large chicken pens.

Couple's lush oasis will make you green with envy!

Latest deals and offers

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?