Members of the National Police Dive Squad, from Wellington,
head out on the Clutha River to search for missing teenager
Blake Sinclair about 14km up the river from Balclutha, at
12.40pm yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Family and volunteers will carry out their own
scaled-back search after a third day of searching by more than
90 people yesterday failed to find any trace of missing Clutha
Valley teenager Blake Sinclair.
The 18-year-old's parents, Raewyn and Mark Sinclair,
yesterday thanked everyone involved in the search for their
''wee guy'', who went missing while kneeboarding on the
Clutha River near Balclutha on Saturday afternoon.
''Our son Blake loved the outdoors and all aspects of
spending time in the outdoors with family and friends -
including hunting, fishing, diving, boating and trail-bike
riding. Blake grew up enjoying jet-boating on weekends,
family holidays out and around South Otago and in the
Southern Lakes region, and family boating holidays on the
West Coast,'' Mr and Mrs Sinclair said.
They asked for privacy and declined to speak directly with
media, opting instead to issue a written statement through
Today a scaled-down search will comprise four jet-boat crews
and family members. Police will spend the next week
monitoring the level and clarity of the Clutha River while
assessing the merits of any further search activity.
Mr and Mrs Sinclair said Blake loved visiting Stewart Island
where he would fish, dive and hunt with family and friends.
He and his brother Logan shared many interests in the
outdoors, they said.
''Blake was a great boy with a very friendly manner and a dry
sense of humour. He wasn't one to get into trouble but he had
a youthful twinkle in his eye.
''He was confident in his own decision-making and ability. He
wasn't one for sitting down and not giving anything a go. He
would take an opportunity, consider it and grab it with both
hands,'' Mr and Mrs Sinclair said.
Blake was kneeboarding behind a boat on the Clutha River,
near the confluence of the Waitahuna River - about 20km up
the river from Balclutha - when he was last seen about 3.30pm
on Saturday. He fell from the kneeboard into the river and
immediate efforts by those aboard the boat failed to find
him, so police were called.
Four police divers, from the national dive squad in
Wellington, arrived at the scene on Sunday evening.
Yesterday they resumed the search for Blake at 8am,
following a 7.30am briefing with almost 100 others.
Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Balclutha, said 18 private
jet-boats, each with three people on board, were involved in
the search, as well as 25 ''local'' Land Search and Rescue
(SAR) volunteers who scoured the river banks.
Five Otago Regional Council staff also assisted with a
land-based search at the Clutha River mouth and adjacent
coastline, he said.
That was about 25km down the river from the search base on
the river bank opposite Awamangu Rd, about 5km down the river
from where Blake was last seen.
Sgt Dinnissen said it was a large search area, comprising the
entire Clutha River below the Waitahuna River confluence.
He said the Clutha River level had dropped about 45cm
overnight on Sunday but at midday yesterday was still almost
double its normal level.
The highest volume river in New Zealand, and the swiftest, it
has an average flow of between 400cumecs and 600cumecs.
Yesterday its flow remained about 1400cumecs
as water continued to spill from the Clyde and Roxburgh dams,
following heavy rain in the catchment area.
The Clutha River was expected to drop to its normal level
within two weeks.
Mr and Mrs Sinclair said Blake had recently been working with
a family member as a fencing contractor in and around the
South Otago community but was ''looking to eventually come
home to the family farm''.
The Sinclair family is well known in the area, having farmed
there for several generations.
Blake attended Clutha Valley Primary School and South Otago
''Blake was loved by his entire extended family. He was a wee
guy that liked to do things right,'' Mr and Mrs Sinclair
They thanked everyone for the ''immense efforts'' in trying
to find their ''dear lad Blake''.
''To all of the specialist services, volunteers and our local
community, the support and efforts both on the river and at
home are greatly appreciated,'' Mr and Mrs Sinclair said.