Search for teenager called off
SAM Macharia had his Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School schoolmates enraptured when he entertained them with his amazing soccer skills at a school assembly last Wednesday.
Those same students were yesterday dazed and saddened by the news of his disappearance on Cabarita Beach on Sunday.
The 16-year-old Kenyan, who lives with his foster parents at Kingscliff, went swimming on Sunday about 2.30pm, but hasn't been seen since. Today is his 17th birthday.
Bad weather and heavy seas forced police to announce they would suspend the search Monday afternoon and resume at 6.30am Tuesday.
When Sam didn't return home Sunday evening his host family scoured the beach, finding his backpack with clothes and his mobile phone.
Family members, volunteers, police and surf lifesavers searched the beach until the late evening while water searches were conducted by the Coast Guard and Point Danger Marine Rescue NSW.
Tweed police Inspector Brad Stewart said officers and surf lifesavers resumed the search Monday morning, but their efforts had been hampered by heavy surf.
Sam Macharia was a Kenyan orphan who first came to Australia in 2006 on a three-month cultural exchange visit and was fostered out to Kingscliff couple Bernie and Sandra Zietlow.
His visa was extended to nine months and then after a short stay back in Kenya he was granted a five-year visa.
Sam's education is being provided by Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School at Terranora.
He joined the school's student body in Year 6.
At last Wednesday's Sports Presentation Assembly, Sam received a number of awards for his brilliant soccer skills and performances in track and field, after which he went through his mesmerising skills routine as students and staff watched on in awe.
The school on Monday issued a press release after being informed Sam was missing.
"The Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School community is in deep shock after receiving the devastating news that one of their current Year 10 students is missing after going for a run and a swim at Cabarita yesterday.
"Reports have advised that the student went missing from the popular tourist beach during the afternoon and has not been seen since.
"The school took immediate action and organised an assembly in first period to share the sad news with staff and students and to advise of support services being available for members of the school community who may need to share and discuss their feelings."
School principal Chris Duncan said: "The missing student is a very popular member of the Lindisfarne Grammar community and our thoughts and prayers are with the student's family during this very difficult time as they wait to hear further details from the police."
The school informed families of Year 10 students by sending an email to both home and student addresses, telling them support services were available.