Fruitless search: Emergency services at Suffolk Park Beach during their failed search for the missing swimmer on Tuesday afternoon.
Fruitless search: Emergency services at Suffolk Park Beach during their failed search for the missing swimmer on Tuesday afternoon. Jay Cronan

Washed up body identified

A BODY washed up on Tallow Beach near Byron Bay yesterday is that of missing US citizen Shawn Williams, police have confirmed.

Mr Williams had been missing, feared drowned, since he was last seen swimming at the unpatrolled Suffolk Park Beach about lunchtime on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old’sbody was discovered by surfers about 6am and police were alerted shortly after.

Tweed-Byron Local Area Command duty officer, Inspector Darren Steel, said the body was found on the shoreline about 2km south of the Byron Bay lighthouse.

“A crime scene was established and forensic officers attended,” he said.

“A post-mortem will be carried out later this week and police will prepare a brief for the Coroner.”

Distraught family members had kept a beachside vigil for two days while emergency services searched by land, air and sea for the body.

Mr Williams was from Chicago and had been living at Suffolk Park with his Australian wife for the past 12 months.

It is the fifth drowning on Far North Coast beaches since Boxing Day in what has beendescribed as a horror season.

Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said the high number of drownings were likely the result of treacherously deceptive conditions this season and could have been worse if lifeguards hadn’t focused so heavily on preventative actions this year.

“Tallow Beach is one of the most dangerous in Byron Bay and people should never take the conditions for granted,” he said, explaining that the rips and currents blamed for the high death toll could have been the result of last winter’s big storms shifting sand around.

THE FIGURES

Far North Coast Surf Life Saving statistics for 2009/10 season

Drownings: 5

Rescues: 347

First aid: 5341

Preventative actions: 49,117



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