No hope after houseboat wife falls overboard
Search for woman ends
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.