After more than 320 hours on the water rescuers have scaled back their search for Bigul Pandit, who drowned 15 days ago, to avoid volunteer exhaustion.
Albury and Border Rescue Squad captain Paul Marshall said they would contain the search when members were available, but would no longer be searching every evening and morning.
“Our members put in more than 320 hours searching the water and with the heat we’ve been having, a lot of days over 40 degrees, it’s really taken its toll,” he said.
“A lot of volunteers would get on the water at 7am, search for two hours, clean up and go to work, then be back on the water after work.”
Mr Marshall said they needed to look after the welfare of their members but were not giving up hope Mr Pandit would be found.
“It’s frustrating and upsetting that we haven’t located the gentleman yet,” he said.
“Part of the reason members do what we do is because they want to try and help others.
“In this case helping means providing closure to the families but we haven’t given up and will still head out of the boat when we can.
“We’ve got a boat and members ready in case someone does spot something in the water.”
With hundreds expected to flock to border waterways this Australia Day long weekend, Mr Marshall said volunteers needed to be rested in case another incident occurred.
He said their boats also needed maintenance and refuelling.
Mr Marshall said volunteers were buoyed by the appreciation the community and Mr Pandit’s family showed, one relative saying no words could express how thankful they were.
“It’s humbling,” he said.
“Even though there’s frustration that we can’t provide closure at least we know the community appreciates our efforts.”
Mr Marshall called for residents to be safe this long weekend and to be respectful of Mr Pandit’s memorial.
“Hopefully the memorial serves as a reminder to others about the dangers of the river,” he said.
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