Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Cochrane family visit scene, pay their respects at spot where son died

The body of 19 year old Lucas Cochrane was found last night in a waterway outside a property on Aquila Dr. Photo / Supplied
The body of 19 year old Lucas Cochrane was found last night in a waterway outside a property on Aquila Dr. Photo / Supplied

The family of Auckland man Luke Cochrane, who was found dead in a waterway in Whitianga, have this morning visited the scene.

The 19-year-old was missing for four days having last been seen at 10.30 on Saturday night leaving a remembrance function at the Whitianga Fire Station.

Members of the police national dive squad found his body in a waterway off Aquila Dr about 6pm yesterday.

Cochrane's family - including dad, Dave Cochrane and mum, Catherine Tamati - were met at the scene by Whitianga police who took them to the spot where divers pulled Luke's body from the water and where his hat was found.

Locals hope finding Luke's body helps bring some closure for the family.

As Cochrane has now been found, police are today packing up their base at Whitianga LandSar, ending their investigation into the keen sportsman's whereabouts.

Inspector John Kelly said all volunteers and national dive squad members were now heading home.

Police would continue to make routine inquiries for the coronial investigation, which would probe Cochrane's cause of death.

On Aquila Dr, there's a sombre mood but residents are relieved the Cochrane family have recovered their son.

A hat belonging to Luke Cochrane was found  close to the water's edge somewhere along this stretch of the waterway, residents say. Photo / Belinda Feek
A hat belonging to Luke Cochrane was found close to the water's edge somewhere along this stretch of the waterway, residents say. Photo / Belinda Feek

The owner of the house where Cochrane's hat was found said she believed it was found on the ground near the water's edge.

There was heavy rain in the town on Saturday night - more than 200mm fell - causing the waterway level to rise so much it was lapping over the concrete wall that borders all properties.

The resident said someone put the hat on the fence that borders their neighbour's holiday home.

As for why Cochrane ended up in Aquila Dr - and not near his rented Albert St bach - would likely come out in the coroner's inquest, but some locals have suggested he may have got disorientated when leaving the fire station and headed off in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, Cochrane's friends are posting tributes to their mate on social media.

"Rest in peace to one of the greatest people I know," wrote Taine Douglas on Facebook. "My best mate for the past 7 or so years, you will be missed by so many mate, the support that has been shown for Luke's family and friends has been unbelievable, he would be so amazed. To my best friend and my brother, thanks for the memories, you'll never been forgotten. I love you mate."

Hunter Shepherd wrote, "How lucky am I to have known someone as genuine as you. Always hard to say goodbye so let me make this easier and just say Kia Ora for the next time I see you my bro. Thank you for the laughs and the memories."

Cochrane's family issued a statement last night saying they were "saddened but relieved to have Luke returned to us".

"The people of Mercury Bay and local businesses - far too many to name - have humbled us with their overwhelming kindness and generosity in our moment of need," they said in a joint statement.

"Police and Search and Rescue, along with family and friends and many volunteers who didn't even know Luke - we give you our heartfelt thanks for your love and support."

- NZ Herald

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