Helicopter and jet-boat-borne search parties head out on
the Clutha River yesterday looking for missing South Otago
kneeboarder Blake Sinclair. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The search today for missing South Otago teenager Blake
McKenzie Sinclair will now be a recovery operation, police said
Mr Sinclair (18) has been missing since about 3.30pm on
Saturday after he fell into the Clutha River while
kneeboarding behind a boat.
Immediate efforts by those on board failed to find him and
police were called. More than 100 volunteers then searched
unsuccessfully for him.
Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Balclutha, said last night the
status of the operation had been changed to a recovery
Mr Sinclair's family were ''holding up as best they can'', he
The weekend's search had been hampered by poor visibility in
the water and the high level of the river,
as a result of spilling from the dams at Clyde and Roxburgh
after recent heavy rain in the headwaters.
The search, which focused on the river and its banks
downstream of the Waitahuna River mouth, about 4km from
Clydevale, included 13 jet-boat teams and nine teams of
searchers on foot, and was assisted by a helicopter.
Sgt Dinnissen said yesterday the national police dive squad
had also joined the search.
The Sinclair family is well known in the area, having farmed
in South Otago for several generations.
When contacted, a family spokesman declined to speak to the
Otago Daily Times.
South Otago High School deputy principal John Douglas said Mr
Sinclair was a pupil at the school until he left to enter the
workforce a year or two ago.
''He's a good kid,'' Mr Douglas said.
Sgt Dinnissen said the community had rallied around the
Sinclair family, who wanted to express their ''immense
gratitude'' to the volunteers who have been supporting the
search. The public support and willingness to help was
greatly appreciated, he said.