RIVER SEARCH: Missing man feared drowned at Noreuil Park

A SEARCH for a man feared drowned in the Murray River at Noreuil Park in Albury will continue today after nightfall put an end to efforts yesterday.
The search was sparked after an Albury father and his two daughters spotted a man, aged between 30 and 50, in trouble in the water about 4pm and jumped in to try to save him.
Steven Shirley, 38, was walking back to Noreuil along a footpath after floating down to the boat ramp with his daughters Teigan, 14, and Paige, who was celebrating her 10th birthday at the park, when they saw him.
“I just said to dad, ‘I think he’s going under’,” Teigan said.
“I thought he was just mucking around, he was floating and then he just started to bob a bit and then went totally under.”
Mr Shirley said by the time he had dived in, the man had disappeared under water and his frantic search failed to find any trace of him.
“My heart sort of stopped,” he said.
The Shirleys were among hundreds of people at the park yesterday trying to cool off in the searing heat.
“My daughters, they swim a lot, but I wanted them to experience the river, but not like this,” Mr Shirley said.
Inspector David Cottee of Albury police feared the man had drowned.
About 20 people from the Albury Volunteer Rescue Association, Albury State Emergency Services and police searched using boats with sonar equipment and divers to scour the fast-flowing river.
They started from the point where Mr Shirley saw him go under, about 400 metres downstream from a cafe at the park, to the Noreuil boat ramp about 500 metres away.
They also searched further afield to the West Albury boat ramp.
“At this stage, if there is a man in the water we have to face the reality it’s a recovery,” Insp Cottee said.
Insp Cottee said the man was swimming alone and with no family or friends who had come forward nor any missing person reports made to police, they didn’t know who they were searching for.
Rescue diver Peter Wright said it was another warning for swimmers to respect the Murray.
“Certainly go down to the river, but look after your mates, look after your kids and it’s just an avoidable tragedy,” Mr Wright said.
Albury and Border Rescue Squad deputy captain Paul Marshall said the search — between Mitta Canoe Club and Noreuil boat ramp — would continue today.
Mr Marshall said the already difficult task was made harder when having to dodge swimmers.
“It would be appreciated if people stayed clear of the search area,” he said.

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