Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Hat found in search for missing teen Luke Cochrane

Police searching for missing teenager Luke Cochrane in the Coromandel have cordoned off a street after finding a hat believed to be his.

Inspector John Kelly said police were "quite positive" the cap that has been found is the one owned by Luke.

Kelly said the street was being cordoned off so that searchers could scour the area more thoroughly.

The dive squad would also move around to that area and concentrate their efforts on the waterway which surrounded Aquila Drive.

A police officer found the cap while carrying out routine inquiries.

Police are believed to be searching a property just 200m from where he went missing.

Aquila Drive in Whitianga is under police guard and a neighbour understands the item may have been found at a property there after hearing police call out to the property owners.

Police search an Aquila Drive property in Whitianga where it's believed a cap belonging to missing man Luke Cochrane was found today. Photo / Belinda Feek
Police search an Aquila Drive property in Whitianga where it's believed a cap belonging to missing man Luke Cochrane was found today. Photo / Belinda Feek

The scene is 200m from the Whitianga Fire Station, where Cochrane had been at a party on Saturday night.

Cochrane is believed to have left the party on foot 10.30pm and has not been seen since.

Friends of Cochrane's are gathering at the cordon, consoling each other.

Police divers find nothing in Whitianga search

Earlier, police divers scoured a waterway opposite the Whitianga Fire Station for any clues in the search for the missing 19-year-old.

The national dive squad arrived at the Whitianga LandSar headquarters about 8am for a briefing with police and search co-ordinators.

Just before 9am they headed to a waterway on the property of Hopper Developments on Kupe Dr, across the road from the station.

Police national dive squad members get ready to search a waterway across the road from the Whitianga Fire Station - where Luke Cochrane was last seen alive on Saturday night. Photo / Belinda Feek
Police national dive squad members get ready to search a waterway across the road from the Whitianga Fire Station - where Luke Cochrane was last seen alive on Saturday night. Photo / Belinda Feek

Divers, who are also being assisted by Hot Water Beach Surf Lifesaving crews, endured challenging conditions as heavy rain continued to batter the town.

Earlier in the week, a large section of the waterway was inspected by boat with searchers using sonar equipment.

However, the stretch opposite the station was shallower and thick with weeds, requiring the dive squad to manually check the bottom.

The clothing Luke Cochrane is believed to be wearing when he disappeared. Photo / Supplied
The clothing Luke Cochrane is believed to be wearing when he disappeared. Photo / Supplied

If the area doesn't uncover anything of interest, they will then move to an area across the road, occupied by homes and moored boats.

Andre Grobbelaar, a former police officer of 30 years, said the fact that Cochrane's phone was active for an hour after he was last seen was interesting and it would give searchers a good radius to begin their search with.

Grobbelaar, who had been involved in many search and rescues during his time with police, thinks Cochrane may have gone further than just across the road.

The police dive squad search the waterways. Photo / Belinda Feek
The police dive squad search the waterways. Photo / Belinda Feek

When asked about the mood in the community, he said there was overwhelming sympathy for the Cochrane family and all hoped that they could get some closure by finding Luke.

"They're all just saying that they hope they find him for the sake of the family but there's no concerns that there's anything sinister. They're all just concerned that they find him."

It's day four of the search for the 19-year-old, which has today been scaled down from up to 30 LandSar searchers to about 15.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 09 Dec 2016 23:23:48 Processing Time: 924ms