The Ruamahanga River
Grieving family members have identified the body pulled
from a Wairarapa river as that of a missing 19-year-old
Jesse Barber of Masterton had been swimming in the Ruamahanga
River near Opaki with a group of friends when he disappeared
in a deep, turbulent pool around 5pm yesterday.
His body was pulled from the river by searchers about 1pm
"The body was recovered and has been identified by family
members," police said in a statement.
"The family have requested privacy at this difficult time."
The police national dive squad was called in today to join
the search after Mr Barber became separated from his
Police earlier said they held grave fears for the
The river's condition at the time of the man's disappearance
involved swift and dirty water caused by rain in the Tararua
Forest Park, but police said river conditions had improved
An initial search was launched about 5.30pm yesterday
involving the Life Flight helicopter, a jet boat, LandSAR
search teams, firefighters, ambulance and police officers,
family and friends.
Searchers had returned empty-handed last night after several
hours of scouring a 3km stretch of the river north of Double
Bridges to a point near Rathkeale College.
Life Flight crewman Dave Greenberg said the river late
yesterday afternoon had been "flowing fast and there was a
lot of water".
He said the helicopter carried three searchers and a pilot
and had descended at times to within 100 feet of the river
surface during an intense search that lasted about an hour.
The helicopter had made three search passes of the 3km
stretch of the river.