www.tweed.nsw.gov.au

'He closed his eyes and went under': son

A YOUNG boy who watched his father drown on a fishing trip on the Tweed River said "he just closed his eyes and went under".

The body of Sean Staunton, who had been missing for five days, was found by searchers on Tuesday.

Mr Staunton, 35, from Chinderah, was last seen last Thursday afternoon when he took his son Louis, 5, for a boat ride near Chinderah Bay.

The boy was hauled unconscious from the Tweed River a few hours later and resuscitated by an off-duty male nurse.

Louis, who is making a good recovery in Brisbane's Mater Hospital, told his mother, Gemma Hurditch, that he saw his father drown after their boat filled with water.

“When Louis came to me he said, mummy I have something to tell you,” Ms Hurditch has been reported saying.

“He said Sean had paddled a really long way with him on his back.

“Louis told me about seeing Sean drown.

“He said he just closed his eyes and went under. I think he either died from exhaustion or had a heart attack from the panic of it all.”

Ms Hurditch said her son couldn't remember why the boat filled with water, but said Mr Staunton had done everything he could to save Louis.

“(Louis) was on Sean like a surfboard to keep him out of the water, to try to keep him warmer,” she said. “I am really proud of Sean. He did everything he could to save Louis and Louis has been saved.”

Officers have interviewed two fishermen who retrieved Mr Staunton's submerged dinghy, and want to hear from other people who may have seen the father and son.

Witnesses said neither Mr Staunton nor his son were wearing life jackets.

One fisherman, who saw the pair before they headed out on to the river, said Mr Staunton ignored warnings to put a life jacket on the boy.

Ms Hurditch said Mr Staunton was usually vigilant in ensuring Louis had a life jacket on when they went out fishing, but "it was an uncanny coincidence that the day he didn't was the day this happened".



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