Suffolk swimmer still missing
THE wife of a man who went missing in the ocean off Suffolk Park on Tuesday resumed her sad vigil at the beach yesterday morning.
She and several friends, including one of the men who had been in the water with her husband, sat on the sand surrounded by police officers, watching four surf lifesavers on jet skis comb the breakers.
The group remained on the beach for several hours.
However, searchers were unable to find the missing man.
Rescuers searched the length of Tallow Beach and a kilometre out to sea and made a thorough investigation of the rocky outcrops around Broken Head.
But a southerly change forced the surf rescue jet skis from Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Ballina, and rescue boats from Byron Bay and Ballina, to call off the search around midday.
The front brought in strong winds, choppy conditions and rising seas and made conditions dangerous. Water police will decide tomorrow when to resume the search.
The missing man, an African-American aged 32, disappeared while swimming about 12.20pm on Tuesday.
It is believed he fell victim to one of the many rips that are currently all along the beach, where experienced observers say a tremendous amount of water is surging through.
The man was from Chicago and had lived in the area for the past year.
Meanwhile, a woman who witnessed the incident said she had been ‘frustrated at the lack of urgency, mishaps and communication breakdowns’ that had characterised the rescue efforts.
The American woman, who watched the man enter the water with his two friends, said she had helped flag down rangers on the beach at 12.30pm, telling them ‘we need to call the police’.
Police records indicate they received the emergency call at 1.15pm, but The Northern Star was not able to establish who made it.
Police were the first to arrive on the scene. Surf lifesavers were next to be alerted, and raced to the beach.
Byron Bay’s ambulance officers were called at 1.49pm.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called at 1.50pm, alerted by the Ambulance Medical Retrieval Unit at St George Hospital in Sydney.
It arrived about 2pm and stayed for at least an hour.
The first jet ski-rider in the water was a friend from nearby Baywood Chase, called by the missing man’s two friends.