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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Still no sign of missing Ballina lifesaver

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Missing Ballina surf lifesaver Raz Burtonwood. Photo Facebook


A Mad Dog brand fin similar to the one believed to have been worn by lifesaver Raz Burtonwood at the time of his disappearance. Image NSW Police

Updated, Monday, 2.50pm: Police have issued a photo of the swim fins (flippers) worn by Ballina surf lifesaver Raz Burtonwood when he disappeared in the water near Ballina Lighthouse on Saturday morning.

They believe that the yellow and black ‘Mad Dog’ brand fins  could be washed ashore on nearby.

If anyone finds a fin like this, police investigating the man’s disappearance are urging the finder to come forward.

Anyone with information that is relevant to the investigation is urged to contact Ballina police, the Marine Area Command, or Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

Updated, Monday, 9.50am: The search is continuing for missing Ballina surf lifesaver Raz Burtonwood, who did not return from a swim in choppy conditions near Ballina Lighthouse on Saturday.

A widespread search involving three jet skis, four IRBs, marine rescue, the rescue helicopter and police will recommence today.

A NSW Surf Lifesaving spokesperson told Echonetdaily more than 100 volunteers were helping with the search yesterday.

‘Everyone in the club and from around the area wants to do what they can to help,’ she said.

Lighthouse Beach. Photo supplied.

Mr Burtonwood, 69, was regarded as a strong swimmer and was a 25-year veteran of the club.

Marine Command have now taken over the operation, with police admitting hopes of finding Mr Burtonwood alive were fading.

A spokesperson for Richmond District police said ‘it would appear to be moving to more of a recovery operation’.

Original story: A full scale search has been underway at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach today for a man in his 60s who went missing while swimming shortly before 9am this morning (Saturday 16 Feb).

On the water and in the air – the local SLSC and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter over the beach at Ballina. Photo supplied.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked around 10.30am to search for the missing swimmer. Police Marine Area Command are coordinating the search, including jet boat, SLSA personal, police and ambulance.

About 10.15am Saturday morning, emergency services were called to Lighthouse Beach at Ballina, after reports of a missing swimmer. The helicopter searched for a period of time with nothing found, then returned to base.

Witnesses have told police a 69-year-old entered the water earlier and had not been seen since.

Officers from Richmond Police District attended and commenced a search for the man, assisted by the Marine Area Command, State Emergency Service (SES), NSW Ambulance, Surf Lifesavers, Marine Rescue and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.

The missing swimmer is a patrolling member of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC and was last seen going for his regular swim before commencing patrol duties for the day.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter returned to base after searching extensively for the missing swimmer. Photo supplied.

Far North Coast Duty Officer Jimmy Keough says this has hit the club hard and many of the volunteers are clearly distressed.

‘This is a terrible situation for the family and friends of the missing member and for everyone at the club,’ said Mr Keough. ‘His patrol team is obviously very upset and are trying to do whatever they can to help.’

The search has now been suspended and will resume tomorrow morning (Sunday 17 February 2019).

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

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