No hope af­ter house­boat wife falls over­board

Search for woman ends

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS MCMA­HON chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

THE search for miss­ing Mel­bourne woman Leisha O’Don­nell, who fell over­board on a house­boat in Mis­sion­ary Bay off Hinch­in­brook Is­land a week ago, has been called off.

It is be­lieved Mrs O’Don­nell and her hus­band had been on the house­boat since July 7 be­fore she was last seen about 7pm last Satur­day, spark­ing an “ex­ten­sive” land, sea and search around the is­land.

Where Mrs O’Don­nell went over­board is a well known area for crocodiles in the chan­nels and sharks in the bay, with the search party’s hopes of find­ing her di­min­ish­ing as the days dragged out.

Innisfail In­spec­tor Brian Cannon con­firmed po­lice had called off the phys­i­cal search late yesterday but would con­tinue in­ves­ti­gat­ing and pre-

air pare a re­port for the Coro­ner. “We’ve sus­pended the search, but that doesn’t mean the search is fin­ished, now we will fol­low through with what­ever lines of in­quiry come along, but we are scal­ing back the phys­i­cal search,” he said.

“The Coro­ner will have to de­ter­mine that ( what hap­pened), the in­ves­ti­ga­tors will com­plete a re­port … and will pro­vide that in­for­ma­tion to the coro­nial sup­port unit.”

Insp Cannon said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were not con­cerned that the alarm was not raised un­til 13 hours af­ter Mrs O’Don­nell was last seen.

Po­lice yesterday helped Mr O’Don­nell re­turn home. His first name was not re­leased.

“The ex­pla­na­tion that has been pro­vided and the cir­cum­stances he’s ( the hus­band) out­lined, don’t cause us to have any rea­son for con­cern at this time,” Insp Cannon said.

“We have as­sisted him to re­turn to his home state – un­for­tu­nately we don’t have the pos­i­tive news I would have liked to have given him.”

Insp Cannon said the search was sus­pended when searchers deemed the sur­viv­abil­ity of the area to be too low.

“The re­al­ity at the end of the day the place she was miss­ing from, it would be un­usual for any­one to come to shore with­out be­ing a solid swim­mer.

“When you are in that man­grove en­vi­ron­ment it would be hard to en­vis­age her mak­ing land­fall.”

MISS­ING: Leisha O'Don­nell.

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