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Desperate search for lifesaver who went missing while swimming at a beach will resume at first light

Veteran lifesaver, 69, affectionately known as ‘Salty Dog’ vanishes while swimming in ‘horrendous’ conditions at his local beach – as the desperate search is called off

  • A search for a swimmer who went missing in the surf will resume at first light
  • Raz Burtonwood, 69, went missing off the coast of Lighthouse Beach in Ballina
  • Witnesses said the man entered the water at 10.15am and hasn’t been seen since
  • Police, rescue helicopters, paramedics, SES and lifesavers commenced search
  • The search has been suspended but will resume at first light on Sunday morning 

A search will resume tomorrow for a veteran lifesaver who went missing while swimming off the coast of a popular beach in northern New South Wales.

Raz Burtonwood, 69, set out for an early morning swim at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach just before 10am on Saturday – but he never returned. 

Emergency services were called to the beach about 10.15am after they received reports of a missing swimmer in the surf.

A search will resume tomorrow for Raz Burtonwood, 69 (pictured), who went missing while swimming off the coast of a popular beach hotspot in New South Wales

A search involving police, two rescue helicopters, paramedics, the SES (pictured) and the man's own surf lifesaving club was launched but he was nowhere to be found 

A search involving police, two rescue helicopters, paramedics, the SES (pictured) and the man’s own surf lifesaving club was launched but he was nowhere to be found 

Witnesses told police they saw the 69-year-old enter the water and become distressed before he disappeared and he hasn’t been seen since. 

A search involving police, two rescue helicopters, paramedics, the SES and the man’s own surf lifesaving club was launched but he was nowhere to be found. 

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters from Sydney also took part in the rescue mission, patrolling the beach and surf from above.

At 1pm, the rescue helicopter had been flying for more than 90 minutes and had to refuel at Ballina Airport.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer, Jimmy Keough, told 7News weather conditions had been ‘pretty horrendous’, which deteriorated throughout the day.

‘At the time of the incident occurring we were looking at two-metre seas, very strong winds and some squally rain coming through the area,’ Mr Keough said.    

There had been some reports of shark sightings in the area on Saturday afternoon, but authorities don’t believe the man was attacked.  

Mr Burtonwood was extremely popular with locals in the area, who described him as the soul of the sea, who lived for the ocean – the ‘Salty Dog’. 

A Westpac helicopter (pictured) was soon also on the scene as the search for a missing man after his morning swim intensified

Helicopters joined the search after a man went missing on Saturday morning on the NSW far north coast

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters (pictured) from Sydney also took part in the rescue mission, patrolling the beach and surf from above 

Mr Burtonwood (pictured) was extremely popular with locals in the area, who described him as the soul of the sea, who lived for the ocean - the 'Salty Dog' 

Mr Burtonwood (pictured) was extremely popular with locals in the area, who described him as the soul of the sea, who lived for the ocean – the ‘Salty Dog’ 

One of his mates, James Nunn, told the publication the 69-year-old was a beautiful, beautiful fella. 

‘He loved to be social with us. You couldn’t get a better fella,’ Mr Nunn said. 

Another one of Mr Burtonwood’s good mates, Eion Johnston, described him as a terrific community contributor and great footballer.  

‘He was a great rugby league player, great rugby union player with Ballina Rugby Club,’ Mr Johnston said.   

The search has been suspended but will resume at first light on Sunday morning. 

Police have urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. 

The desperate search has been suspended but will resume at first light on Sunday morning

The desperate search has been suspended but will resume at first light on Sunday morning

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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