Third Man Found Dead After Coffs Harbour Drowning Tragedy
It was a family beach holiday that turned into an insurmountable tragedy.
UPDATE: After days of searching, the body of the missing 27-year-old man has been located. The search for him began on Monday and he was finally located as 12 pm on Thursday.
Six members of the same family were swimming at the unpatrolled Moonee Beach near Coffs Harbour on Monday evening when the tide quickly picked up.
The family members became caught in fast-moving currents, murky with sediment and debris from heavy rains from the night before. In the strong water, two men, aged 35 and 45 died.
Two teenage girls and a teenage boy were pulled from the water and taken to Coffs Harbour Hospital for observation.
"This incident is a tragedy ... this is a time of meeting with family and everybody should be with their family and enjoying at this time,"Chief Inspector Brendan Gorman of Coffs Harbour Police told media on Tuesday.
"It just reinforces to us to swim always at patrolled beaches. Don't over estimate your abilities. Know what you are doing and where you are at. Swim between the flags and do not swim at unpatrolled beaches," he said.
The group is believed to be from Sydney's west and police believe nearly 20 members of the same family were on holiday together.
Gorman told media a member of the public noticed people struggling in the water and alerted authorities. Emergency services arrived at the scene in just seven minutes.
One surf lifesaver swam 700 metres into the water to save one of the family members.
The search for the missing 28-year-old recommenced on Tuesday morning. Emergency services poured plenty of resources into the search, with three marine rescue boats, a police rescue boat, a helicopter from Sydney, and a drone, jet ski and rubber surf boats from Surf Life Saving Australia have all been deployed.
READ MORE: Terrifying Near Drowning Caught On Camera
"At about 7 am this morning police recommenced searching the water ways around Mooney Beach... with the assistance of the Marine Rescue Command and also volunteer Marine Rescue," Gorman said.
"We are still trying to locate the missing man. We believe him to be a 28-year-old male from India."
Strong winds, choppy weather and incoming thunderstorms are all impacting on the search. The search for the missing man was called off due to poor light and deteriorating surf conditions on Monday.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said the tragedy was a reminder to only swim at safe locations.
"This terrible tragedy highlights the importance of swimming at patrolled locations and understanding how to identify rips and the dangers they present," Pearce said in a statement.
"An event like this unfolding so close to the festive season only magnifies the grief and devastation."
The search will last "until we have exhausted our options in trying to find this man," Gorman said.
Featured image: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service