Missing man’s family gather in solemn waterside vigil
There were heartbreaking scenes at south wall this morning as the search resumed for a man missing after being swept into the harbour by a rogue wave.
A sombre mood hung in the air as around 40 family members and friends of the man gathered on the banks of the harbour, watching on as Marine Rescue combed the water looking for signs of the missing man.
As the swell began to pick up, some of the group spotted something in the water, causing a brief moment of tense anticipation as rescuers made their way over to check it out.
Some minutes passed before the search resumed its usual pattern, and the group went back to sitting in quiet reflection.
Later, Inspector Matt French from Coffs/Clarence police said emergency services were concentrating on a search area around the jetty and along beaches potentially down to Sawtell.
"The Marine Area Command based out of Sydney are very experienced in this type of search and they have come up with search patterns which the local water police are implementing," he said.
The search began last night after a 24-year-old woman told police she had been walking in front of the man when a large wave struck the break wall behind her; she turned around and the man had disappeared.
It continued until around 10pm last night and resumed at 8am this morning after advice from Marine Area Command.
Insp. French confirmed the breakwall was closed to the public yesterday and would continue to be off limits until Sunday or Monday.
"At the time the 20-year-old male accessed the south wall the gate was closed," he said.
Local cyclist Peter Corcoran makes his way down to the breakwall six days a week and said yesterday was the first time he had seen the area closed off for a long time.
"(The conditions) were pretty rough... and I could see as I was approaching all the swell washing over and I thought, 'I am going to get wet here'," he said.
"But when I got there it was all locked up."