Wednesday 17 January 2018

Police searching for Irish surfer scour beaches to recover body

An aerial view of Byron Bay where an Irish man went missing
An aerial view of Byron Bay where an Irish man went missing
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Police searching for an Irish teenager who was caught in a dangerous rip while surfing off the coast of Australia say they are moving the search into ‘recovery mode'.

The search for a 19-year-old Irishman, named locally as Stuart Butler is entering its third day today.

Eyewitnesses raised the alarm after seeing three surfers being pummelled against the rocky shore.

Mr Butler is still missing after the incident at Cape Byron on the east coast of Australia. The two other men, aged 26 and 20, were rescued.

Nick Zammit from Brunswick Valley Rescue confirmed to Echonetaily that at this stage searchers were looking for a body.

Distressed relatives of the missing surfer face an agonising wait for news after they arrived from Melbourne.

Julien Ventalon, from Brisbane, was the first person to phone emergency services at 10.45am on Saturday when he noticed the three men being pulled out to sea.

"I wanted to go for a surf and saw them," he told the 'Northern Star' newspaper.

"I thought I would wait and see how the surf was."

One surfer, who eventually paddled into shore safely, was swept out away from the rocks and out of trouble.

"The last fellow... he tried to get up the rock (but) the waves just washed him back off the rock."

Mr Ventalon said he knew the first man was fine, but watched as the other two became stranded at the base of the cliffs.

Police in Byron Bay in New South Wales said the search for the missing Irishman resumed at first light this morning.

Local woman Alison Reid said: "There's no way in the world any person from Byron Bay would have entered the water anywhere along Tallows yesterday.

"There was backwash coming off the rocks, it was treacherous."

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that it has been in touch with the man's immediate family.

An underwater search at the base of the cliffs by police divers will not be possible until at least Wednesday, when the dangerous conditions were expected to ease.

Irish Independent

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