Body washes up, couple catch last sighting of man alive
WHEN Lionel and Jennifer Ridge-Cooke waved hello to an elderly man on his dinghy on Wednesday morning, they never thought they would be the last people to see him alive.
The Hervey Bay couple was out on their own boat, fishing near the Urangan Marina when they saw the man.
But by 3pm the man's body was found washed up against the rock wall.
"We gave him a smile and a wave," Jennifer said, adding the man was headed towards Pulgul Creek in his dinghy about 10.30am.
About half an hour later, as the couple moved their boat, they saw the dinghy again.
This time the little vessel was empty.
Lionel said the motor was still going and the dinghy was about half way between the rock wall and Big Woody Island, heading towards the island.
"We realised this was not good," he said.
The couple phoned 000, chased down the dinghy and towed it back to the marina.
Hervey Bay water police, the Volunteer Marine Rescue and the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter began searching the area for the missing man.
By 3pm, however, the worst was confirmed, as the body of the man was found.
"It's very upsetting," Jennifer said.
The Hervey Bay police could not confirm the identity of the man by the time of publication but it was believed he was aged in his 70s.
The police spokesman said preliminary investigations indicated the death was not suspicious.