Authorities confirm breakwall shut before man went missing
Authorities have confirmed he gate to the breakwall was closed prior to a young man being swept into the ocean on Thursday evening.
Transport for NSW, which has controlled the southern breakwall since last year, said it made the decision to prevent pedestrian access after receiving weather advice.
Both the southern and northern breakwaters are the only ones in NSW to have a gate preventing access when weather forecasts indicate large swell or dangerous sea conditions.
"For safety reasons on Tuesday evening, a representative of Coffs Harbour City Council, on behalf of Transport for NSW, closed the gate to the southern breakwater after Bureau of Meteorology advice about dangerous conditions," a TfNSW spokesperson said.
"The gate will reopen when advice is received about sea conditions abating."
A 20-year-old man is believed to have been swept off the southern breakwall after a woman told police she had been walking in front of him when she turned to find he had disappeared after a large wave struck the wall behind her.
A short time later a family approached police concerned their son had not returned home from a walk along the beach and his car was found in the nearby Gallows Beach carpark.
The search for the Coffs Harbour man was called off due to bad light on Thursday evening before recommencing on Friday morning, by which time a large number of family and friends of the 20-year-old gathered on the bank of the harbour.
It has been a horrendous few days for emergency services after several other accidents involving people being washed off rocks were recorded across the state.
Last night the bodies of three men were recovered from the water near Port Kembla after witnesses said they saw a group of men get knocked into the surf by a large wave.
And earlier in the day a man was left fighting for his life after being pulled from the water off Providential Point Lookout, Royal National Park.
It is believed he too was washed off rocks.
Inspector Matt French from Coffs/Clarence Police said Council took steps to ensure the safety of the community by closing the gates of the breakwall, adding that people should obey the warning signs.
"(The large swell) will continue over the next few days so we just urge everyone to exercise extreme caution."