Fam­ily keeps vigil at beach

Franklin County News - - News - By NI­COLA BREN­NAN-TU­PARA

The search for two fish­er­men miss­ing off the coast of Port Waikato re­sumed yes­ter­day.

How­ever, po­lice said yes­ter­day they no longer ex­pected to find the men alive due to the time they had spent in the cold water.

A shore­line search was their main fo­cus yes­ter­day.

South Auck­land broth­ers Maka and Aisea Inoke and a third man, Hopapi Pepa, were washed out to sea on Sun­day af­ter­noon while net fish­ing near the river mouth of Port Waikato.

Mr Pepa was found about 5pm that af­ter­noon about 9km south of Kar­i­oitahi. How­ever, life­guards were un­able to re­sus­ci­tate him us­ing CPR.

They also found the men’s nets and other items. The broth­ers, from Ma­nurewa, were yet to be found as of yes­ter­day.

Fam­ily mem­bers, along with po­lice, scoured the shore­line north of Port Waikato on Tues­day.

Speak­ing at Kar­i­oitahi Beach, the men’s sis­ter in-law, Mele Nafe­ta­lai, said the fam­ily were try­ing to stay pos­i­tive. They ar­rived with po­lice about 11am and stayed un­til low tide at 3pm.

Mrs Nafe­ta­lai said her hus­band was deal­ing with the news as best he could. ‘‘ We are just wait­ing for any news from the po­lice re­ally,’’ she said.

Surf Life Sav­ing Kariao­tahi and Sun­set Beach Life­guard Ser­vice mem­bers spent sev­eral hours on Tues­day search­ing the coast­line by boat dur­ing high tide and land dur­ing low tide but failed to find the men.

Two he­li­copters and Coast­guard boats were also in­volved in the search pe­ri­od­i­cally.

Surf Life Sav­ing Kariao­tahi se­nior life­guard Dean Lawrence was part of the team in­volved in the ini­tial search.

He said it could be a dan­ger­ous stretch of beach and the club’s own life­guards would not swim in that area. The beach was known to have strong rips and cur­rents. ‘‘As much as a life­guard will go out in that to res­cue some­one, they wouldn’t swim there,’’ he said.

He urged peo­ple not to go any­where be­yond their ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Sun­set Beach Life­guard Ser­vice pres­i­dent Mal­colm Beat­tie said the trio were ill-equipped to be fish­ing at the river’s mouth

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