Searcher dies in hunt for missing diver

By Victoria White -
The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter were called to Pourerere beach to search for a missing diver this afternoon. PHOTO/File
The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter were called to Pourerere beach to search for a missing diver this afternoon. PHOTO/File

Police have recovered the body of a second diver who died in Hawke's Bay yesterday afternoon.

The man died after he attempted to help another diver who failed to resurface on the Pourerere Coast, 95 kilometres south of Napier.

The body of the first diver was found yesterday. The police dive squad recovered the second diver this morning.

The names of the divers are expected to be released today, police said.

Yesterday afternoon, police were called to Pourerere Beach about 3.30pm. A police spokeswoman said two people had gone diving from the beach, but only one had returned.

The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to the scene just after 4pm to assist with search and rescue. Police and search and rescue volunteers began a search of the area, and the diver's body was found a couple of hours later.

Just before 6pm, a police spokeswoman confirmed a second diver had died. It's understood the searcher had entered the water to help with the recovery. Medical teams worked on the victim, but they were pronounced dead at the scene.

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A police spokeswoman said the searcher who died wasn't part of the official search and rescue party.

As of last night she said next-of-kin were being notified and there would be no further information provided.

Some residents spoken to said they heard the rescue helicopter fly over their houses, and could see it flying around the Pourerere Beach coastline.

Mark Warren, owner of Waipari Station, could not see the beach from his house but had tracked the helicopters movements on the Lowe Corporation website and said it had spent some time searching.

He said the weather had been reasonable, but the sea was not completely calm. "It's another tragedy, another family who have lost a loved one," he said.

Police said they offered their deepest condolences to the families and friends of the divers.

This brings the total number of drownings in Hawke's Bay this year to four.

In February, Malcolm Bruce Cameron, 37, died after going missing while diving at Akitio Beach, east of Pongaroa. The Dannevirke man had been diving with his friend, and his 18-year-old son.

In March, Bay View man Gary Beswick drowned after his boat overturned when he was out crayfishing. His body was recovered from rocks near Waipatiki Beach by emergency services, following a search that was sparked when the two men failed to return home.

The man Mr Beswick had been with was found on the beach, suffering from hypothermia.

Late last year, Jimmy Atilua Laulu, 3, drowned in an unpatrolled area at Ocean Beach on Christmas Day. His death came less than a month after Korean student Seunghyeon Choi drowned at Waitangi Lagoon, an unpatrolled area, in Awatoto.

The helicopter returned to Hastings about 7.30pm last night. Police could not confirm if the body of the first missing diver had been retrieved.

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