Search for fisherman winds down

WHITSUNDAY Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) and Hamilton Island Aviation were part of a concerted search for a man lost at sea after his dinghy sank off Abbott Point at midnight Saturday.

Bowen police Senior Sergeant Rob Mulhern said Matthew Brown, 22 and Peter Neven, 45 took their four metre dinghy out of the mouth of the Don River and it quickly started taking on water.

He said the boat sank about 100m offshore and the two men - who weren't wearing life jackets - eventually drifted apart.

Mr Brown was located 20km north from where the boat sank, on the Abbott Point beach. However, despite an extensive search, as of Wednesday, Mr Neven had not been located. Snr Sgt Mulhern said five helicopters, four VMR vessels, water police and SES searched throughout Sunday and Monday for Mr Nevin, but on Tuesday the search was reduced to one helicopter and two VMR vessels with the help of water police and SES.

"The search will continue until we lose light tonight, then we will reassess what we are doing," he said on Tuesday.

Whitsunday VMR search co-ordinator Ian Stone said the Whitsunday VMR crew was called to assist their Bowen and Burdekin counterparts.

He said they arrived back at Whisper Bay at 5am Tuesday after 14 hours searching.

Hamilton Island Aviation general manager Gary Kilby said they had three aircraft in the air for a full day - two helicopters, with a Cessna Grand Caravan flying above providing communications.

He said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) called the air search off on Tuesday afternoon.


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