News

Teen found dead after search

Police believe they have found the body of 14-year-old surf life saver Matt Barclay, who went missing in surf on the Gold Coast.
Police believe they have found the body of 14-year-old surf life saver Matt Barclay, who went missing in surf on the Gold Coast. Cade Mooney

THE body of a young man, believed to be missing Sunshine Coast lifesaver Matt Barclay, has been found on the Gold Coast.

According to Gold Coast Police, a body was recovered after police and volunteers resumed an aerial, ground and water search this morning.

Police believe the body was of a 14-year-old boy who went missing at Kurrawa Beach yesterday during a board event.

Police and lifesavers rushed to the scene while Matt's devastated parents were also on the beach.

News of the discovery broke as Siena Catholic College students on the Sunshine Coast were this morning holding a special assembly.

Students broke down in tears as they gathered to mourn the loss of a classmate.

Premier Campbell Newman has told reporters he would be conveying his condolences to Matt's family.

This morning three rescue choppers, more than 200 lifesavers and over 30 inflatable boats and jet skis joined the search effort.

Competition had been cancelled for the day and there are already calls for future events not to be held at Kurrawa.

The CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia Brett Williamson has today said Kurrawa might be reviewed as too dangerous to hold large events

The State Government said it was also looking into the matter

Matt is feared to have drowned in the same location and at the event that claimed the life of Saxon Bird in 2010.

The Siena Catholic College student, an under-15 competitor at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, was reported missing in the water about 3.45pm yesterday.

The 14-year-old member of the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club was competing in a board event when he was knocked off into rough surf at Kurrawa.

Matt was last spotted at the back of the breakers by race officials.

Using 30 inflatable rescue craft and two helicopters, police conducted a massive search spanning several kilometres.

A beachgoer said hundreds of people wearing pink rash shirts were in the water searching for the boy, many of them using jet skis, boards and boats.

Coloured dye was released in the surf where the missing teenager was last seen in order to track the current.

Matt's trademark board, which had coloured Southern Cross stars, was recovered.

The search was called off about 6.40pm but was continued this morning at first light with water police joining the efforts.

More than 200 lifesavers, three rescue helicopters and 30 inflatable boats and jet skis are expected to join the search.

Inspector Geoff Palmer from Gold Coast police said the outlook was grim.

"At this time I would say we have grave fears for the safety of the young man," he said.

"We are continuing to search. It will resume in the morning if that is necessary.

"All I can say is everything is being done that could be done."

Matt was wearing a fluorescent lycra singlet, compulsory for the first time this year following the Saxon Bird tragedy.

Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Brent Williamson said he was devastated.

"Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with the family and the broader surf life saving membership," he said.

Mr Williamson said it was his worst nightmare.

He said all details surrounding Matt's disappearance were being studied.

"There are various reports coming in; all that will be collated and reviewed in due course," he said.

"Certainly the wind was up, hence the ongoing discussions about possibly relocating or modifying some of the events, particularly the surfboats."

He said the swell through the day fluctuated between point eight of a metre to just over one metre.

"It doesn't look bigger (than when Saxon Bird died in 2010) but certainly the information that we were looking at on a regular, ongoing basis was that surf conditions were not large.

A number of events had been cancelled or shifted earlier in the day, including the women's double ski.

Mr Bird's was the second death at Kurrawa during the Australian titles.

Fifteen-year-old Robert Gatenby drowned in cyclonic conditions during the 1996 event.

Yesterday was the first day of official events for the 2012 carnival, which ends on Sunday.

Topics:  gold coast matthew barclay



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