By Jennie Gutry
It is every parent's nightmare - to look around where your children have been playing and one is missing. For Ness Cobb of Foxton, it was reality.
The family were at Foxton Beach having a great time on Thursday, January 14 around 6pm. Her 10-year-old son Shade often went off and played out of sight but was always quickly located.
This time, she just couldn't spot him. Getting more and more distressed, she scoured the beach again and again, but no sign of Shade.
"I have never been so scared in my whole life," said Ness relieving the traumatic evening.
They searched for several hours, without finding Shade. By this time, Ness was hysterical.
"All I could think of was that Shade was dead, drowned or something else."
She admits he is an adventurous boy and a "bit mischievous", but he didn't usually run off when they were out. She was genuinely scared something had happened to him.
Although they usually pack up by 6pm, members of Foxton Surf Life Saving Club were still on the beach training later that evening.
Vice president Shaun Sayer got a call just before 9pm from Police Communications.
"We just happened to be at the right place at the right time and were able to use our resources to help with the search," which by now included the Coastguard.
Surf lifesavers used their lights and beach buggy to search the beach for the missing boy.
On a whim, Ness called home to check if Shade was there. Her elder daughter answered the phone and said her brother had been in the neighbourhood for some time playing with some other kids his age.
He had gone home with their family when they left the beach, without letting Ness or her partner know.
"I was so relieved and thought thank God he is all right. The surf life club team were amazing; they were just glad he was at home. They were gorgeous."
Ness is so grateful to the surf lifesaving club members who helped her, and the policeman who came to talk to Shade later that evening.
"He was very helpful and emphasised that Shade needed to stay in sight of me at the beach at all times."
Surf Life Saving Club vice president Shaun says it was the "best possible outcome all round that the boy was found safe and well".
Shade was very sorry the next day but is banned from the beach at the moment, says his mum.