Long search ends for body of missing man

WHEN Banora Point couple Leigh Rushton and her husband David Galley discovered a body floating on the Tweed River yesterday they had a feeling it was missing Tweed father Sean Staunton.

The Barellan Drive residents made the grim discovery about 7.30am when they saw an object floating about 50m off-shore, just opposite their riverfront home.

Surf lifesavers, the Tweed Volunteer Rescue squad and the SES recovered the body, which had been stuck on a sand bank, bringing it to shore about 9.35am.

By the end of the day police had confirmed the body had been identified as 35-year-old Mr Staunton, who went missing last Thursday near Chinderah.

The couple said they had been scouring the stretch of river near their house every day since they first got word of Mr Staunton's disappearance.

"We knew he would come down this way because of the current," Ms Rushton said. "Everything gets washed down this way. If he'd stayed in there for another night, he would have ended up on our jetty."

Ms Rushton said she and her husband could see, through binoculars, an object floating off-shore and could make out what they knew had to be a man's body floating face down.

"We could see the bottom and the back. It was definitely a torso, so we rang the police and they told us to wait here."

Authorities began a major search operation for Mr Staunton after his five-year-old son was found floating unconscious in the river off Chinderah Bay Drive.

He was revived by an off-duty nurse and eventually taken to Brisbane's Mater Hospital.

The boy has since been released from hospital and was expected to be questioned by police yesterday.

Mr Staunton's car and boat trailer were located on Thursday night in a car park near where his son was found.

A life jacket was handed in by a member of the public to a Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) crew member on Sunday and police were investigating whether it was linked to Mr Staunton's disappearance.

A fisherman not far from where Mr Staunton's son was pulled from the water told the Tweed Daily News on Thursday he had seen a man and a young boy heading out in a small boat earlier in the day and had been concerned that the boy wasn't wearing a life jacket. Police said they were still investigating all avenues as to what occurred the afternoon Mr Staunton took his son out on the river and are asking any witnesses who may have seen Mr Staunton and his son fishing from a small light-blue dinghy between midday and 3pm Thursday to contact Tweed Heads police or Crime Stoppers.



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