At about 8pm today, 24 December, Police received reports of 14-year-old boy who had failed to return from collecting shellfish off the rocks at Opape Beach near Opotiki.
The boy was last seen at 3pm and there were concerns for his safety when he didn’t return home before high tide this evening.
The tide was coming in and his family were concerned that daylight was running out and that he may have been swept from the rocks.
The Coast Guard were contacted and their vessel deployed from Opotiki for a shoreline search.
Police Search and Rescue were called out from Bay of Plenty and a ground search was coordinated from Opape.
Local helicopter company, Motu Helicopters, with police on board, were tasked to check the area until the Police Air Support Unit, Eagle, was available.
At about 9pm Motu Helicopters located the boy clinging on to the side of the rocks at Opape Beach.
The pilot was able to manoeuvre the helicopter close to the steep rock face, allowing Constable Reuben Hennessy of Bay of Plenty Police Search and Rescue, to get onto the rocks then guide the boy down from the rock face into the helicopter.
He was then returned to his friends and family who were waiting at Opape. He was not injured.
Constable Hennessy says, “I would like to take the chance to remind people when out fishing so close to rocks or engaging in water sports that they come prepared.”
We recommend people taking life-jackets and wearing them.
“It’s also important to take a mobile phone but keep it waterproof, such as in a plastic zip-locked bag. It’s also good to check the weather and tide conditions in advance of going out.
It’s a Christmas miracle that we found the young boy. It could have been a tragedy. His family are very relieved he’s okay and back safely and so are we,” he says.
Issued by Police Media Centre