1 February 2021

Search for snorkeller near Batemans Bay to be suspended

| Hannah Sparks
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Two Surf Lifesavers stand on rocks at Richmond Beach while the Westpac Rescue Helicopter flies overhead.

Lifesavers and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter search for the missing snorkeller at Richmond Beach. Photos: Surf Life Saving Far South Coast.

The search for a missing ACT father who was last seen snorkelling at Richmond Beach on the NSW South Coast on 25 January is likely to be suspended this week.

While police are yet to release the 39-year-old man’s name, they said he was on a spearfishing day trip with friends and his two children when he went missing.

His two children were playing nearby on the beach in Murramarang National Park near Batemans Bay, while his pregnant wife remained at home.

The man last entered the water carrying a knife and wearing a snorkel, wetsuit, goggles and aqua shoes.

A map showing where the snorkeller went missing, Batemans Bay and Malua Bay in the south.

Emergency services have been searching between Richmond Beach and Malua Bay. Photo: Google Maps.

The only thing the experienced snorkeler wasn’t carrying was his spearfishing equipment, which he handed to friends before exploring the rocks at the beach.

Friends called emergency services around 3:00 pm when he didn’t return from his last swim.

Members of the South Coast Police District, Surf Life Saving NSW, Marine Rescue, Eurobodalla Shire Council lifeguards and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter immediately launched a search between Richmond Beach and Malua Bay.

Chief Inspector John Sheehan of Batemans Bay Police Station has been leading the search and said the conditions weren’t overly rough on the day the man went missing.

However, storms have increased the swell and reduced the visibility over the search area during the past week. Police divers were only able to search around the rocks, the man’s last known location, as conditions eased on Sunday.

Chief Inspector John Sheehan at Richmond Beach

Chief Inspector John Sheehan of Batemans Bay Police Station has been leading the search.

So far, there have been no sightings of the missing snorkeler.

Chief Inspector Sheehan said the emergency services had done everything they can.

“It will be up to the Marine Area Command [as to when we call off the search] and we will do a review later on today (1 February). But in reality, we will look at terminating [the search] this week,” Chief Inspector Sheehan said.

There is currently no theory about what happened to the man, with police considering anything from a medical episode to an accident near the rocks.

Once the search is called off, police will prepare a report for the coroner to determine what happened.

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