Nik Hafizi Nik Long went missing after he was washed off a rock at Red Rock headland on August 29.
Nik Hafizi Nik Long went missing after he was washed off a rock at Red Rock headland on August 29.

Grieving mum’s plea as son remains missing off coast

"SHE has spent days, as any mother would, going between hope and despair … knowing her son is out there, his body not being protected from the elements."

Red Rock local Maddie Rasmussen is desperately trying to help Nik Hafizi Nik Long's mother receive some answers.

Her son remains missing off the east coast - around 5,000km away from her home in Malaysia.

"Rosidah Binti Abdul Manaf needs to see where her boy lived, meet his friends, and visit the place that he died."

Leaving behind his proud family in the state of Kelantan, it had been a dream for Nik Hafizi to begin building a life in the 'lucky' country.

And it wasn't long before the 25-year-old and his cousin would find themselves in the small seaside village of Woolgoolga, a hub for backpackers and tourists looking for work picking berries.

But tragically, it was a dream cut short.

 

A search was underway at Red Rock on August 29. Photo: Frank Redward
A search was underway at Red Rock on August 29. Photo: Frank Redward

On the afternoon of August 29, emergency services received reports a fisherman went missing in the waters off Red Rock headland, north of Woolgoolga.

Nik Hafizi and a group of friends had decided to spend the afternoon exploring and fishing. An eager fisherman, he had climbed down to the rock ledge when a wave washed him off.

A desperate and large-scale search began - with Marine Rescue, lifesavers, water police, the Westpac Rescue chopper and even the RAAF rescue helicopter all banding together to comb the waters for any trace of Nik Hafizi.

Almost two weeks later, his body has not been recovered.

He is presumed drowned and his family who are stuck thousands of kilometres away are grappling with the tragedy.

Locals nervously watched the search unfold at Red Rock on August 29. Photo: Frank Redward
Locals nervously watched the search unfold at Red Rock on August 29. Photo: Frank Redward

Maddie Rasmussen did not know Nik Hafizi personally, but happened to be at the scene at the time of the incident.

Ms Rasmussen had previously lived in Malaysia and could speak Bahasa, so she acted as a translator at the scene and now continues to assist with the search.

She keeps in close daily contact with his friends.

"I have been living in Malaysia for the last two years in the same state that Nik Hafizi and his family are from, so it hit hard for me," Ms Rasmussen said.

Ms Rasmussen has started a fundraiser in a bid to help his mum and brother come to Australia to continue the search, and to be able to properly grieve for their loved one.

"His family and friends accept that Nik Hafizi is dead but being thousands of miles away in Malaysia makes it almost impossible to process this tragedy.

"Rosidah Binti Abdul Manaf … needs to speak to officials, speak to those that tried to save his life and those who spent hours trying to find him."

Surf Life Saving took part in the large scale search for Nik Hafizi on August 29. Photo: Frank Redward
Surf Life Saving took part in the large scale search for Nik Hafizi on August 29. Photo: Frank Redward

She acknowledged the travel would be problematic amid the current Covid-19 resistrictions, but said the problems were "manageable" in these tragic circumstances.

The money raised via GoFundMe will be put towards flying Rosidah Binti and Nik Hafizi's brother, Nik Zamani, to Australia, including the associated visa and quarantine costs.

In the mean time, Ms Rasmussen continues to put the call out to local boaties to keep their eyes out and search whenever they can.

She also has plans to petition Coffs Harbour City Council for the installation of warning signs at Red Rock Headland.

"There is none, and this happens too often with fishermen," she said.

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