by Ken McManus
'Three people are missing from two separate boat capsize incidents on the Long Weekend at Lake Macquarie and Wiseman’s Ferry,' said A/Commissioner Glenn Finniss of Marine Rescue NSW. 'None of those missing was wearing a lifejacket.'
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On Saturday afternoon a tinny with three teenagers on board capsized on Lake Macquarie. A 17-year-old boy managed to struggle to shore. A 16-year old boy tried to help his 14-year-old girlfriend in the appalling weather conditions but without success.
Three vessels from Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie joined Water Police and NSW Maritime in the search for the missing 14-year old girl. Two helicopters using night-vision equipment were also involved in the operation.
The search was made difficult by the extreme weather conditions including driving rain which severely limited visibility down to as little as 20m between vessels in the search line. The search was suspended on Monday after a further search of the Lake Macquarie and its foreshores.
On Sunday June 12, another tinny carrying three men and a pet dog capsized at Wiseman’s ferry on the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury River as it made its way between shore and a houseboat. One man and the dog made it to shore but the other men are missing.
Crews from Marine Rescue Hawkesbury and Marine Rescue Cottage Point joined NSW Water Police and SES in the search which also involved helicopter assistance.
A/Commissioner Finniss said, 'Both incidents highlight the speed with which a tragedy can strike and the life-saving importance of wearing lifejackets – even for a short trip from boat to shore. I implore everyone who goes boating to wear a lifejacket – especially in small boats during bad weather. We need to get everyone automatically thinking about lifejackets in their boats, the same way they automatically put on seat belts in their cars.'
Marine Rescue NSW website