Missing fisherman a 'top bloke' says friend

WHAT WE KNOW:

  • The men, David Chivers, 36, and Matt Roberts, 61, have now been missing for more than 72 hours.
  • Trawler owner hires plane to continue search for missing men. 
  • A CareFlight spokesman said they were waiting on advice from the Hervey Bay water police as to whether the helicopter search would continue today.
  • Wreckage of the Cassandra has washed up on Fraser Island.

 

UPDATE 12.30PM: NO significant items have washed to shore in the search for the two Bundaberg fisherman missing off Fraser Island.

David Chivers and Matt Roberts have been missing for more than 72 hours after their prawn trawler was found capsized just before 7am on Monday. The official aerial search for the pair was called off at last light on Tuesday.

A private plane was hired by trawler owners Markwell Fisheries to continue the search on Wednesday.

Hervey Bay Water Police Acting Sergeant Craig Collings said no significant items had been found during police patrols of the shoreline.

Debris has been found, but none which would lead to clues about where the men may be.

WEDNESDAY

UPDATE: 8.20pm

FAMILY and friends have been praying and thinking for the safety of David Chivers who has been lost at sea since Monday morning.

Search crews have been looking for him and his crewmate Matthew Roberts after their prawn trawler, the Cassandra, was found capsized off Fraser Island.

For two days helicopters and airplanes scoured the waters off Fraser Island for the two men.

At sunset on Tuesday pilots ended their search.

SEARCH: The air and sea search for David Chivers and his colleague Matt Roberts will resume today after the trawler they were working on sank off Waddy Point yesterday.
SEARCH: The air and sea search for David Chivers and his colleague Matt Roberts will resume today after the trawler they were working on sank off Waddy Point yesterday.

Markwell Fisheries, the owner of the trawler boat, hired a plane yesterday to continue the search for the two men.

A company spokesman said he couldn't comment further on the search effort.

A school friend from Gladstone, Ehammed Anderson, said David was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back.

"He is a top bloke who always rang up to see how all his friends were doing," he said.

Mr Anderson has spoken to the family and said they wanted their privacy while the search was ongoing.

David's father still lives in Gladstone.

David moved to Bundaberg a few years ago with his wife and stepchildren.

"We call him the gentle giant," Ehammed said.

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"All his friends are hoping the best for him. We miss him and if he comes out of this we can't wait to see him.

"If not, fair well to a good mate, a true mate".

He said he was funny too.

"While we are sitting around having a drink he would suddenly pull out a big complicated word," he said. "We would all look at him and ask him where he got that from. He would say he 'saw it on telly and thought I would make it my word of the day'.

"That's the sort of guy he is, funny, gentle and a little weird."

UPDATE 6.20pm Wednesday:

A friend of Bundaberg's David Chivers said the missing fisherman is a great bloke.

Mr Chivers went to West Gladstone State School and then Gladstone State High before becoming a trawler fisherman.

School friend Ehammed Anderson said David was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back.

"He is a top bloke who always rang up to see how all his friends were doing," he said.

Mr Anderson has spoken to the family and said they wanted their privacy while the search was ongoing.

David's father still lives in Gladstone but he moved to Bundaberg a few years ago with his wife and stepchildren.

 

UPDATE 6.10PM Wednesday:

POLICE used every possible resource in the three-day search for two Bundaberg fishermen who went missing off Fraser Island on Monday.

David Chivers, 36, and Matt Roberts, 61, were aboard the Cassandra when it capsized sometime between 3am and 7am.

The families of the pair have not spoken to media today and Mr Roberts family requested their privacy.

Police believe a net may have snagged the rocky bottom, dragging the prawn trawler over.

Queensland Police state search and rescue co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Jim Whitehead said during a search operations, police are still required to comply with Civil Aviation Authority regulations regarding the number of aircraft in the search area.

At the height of the search police had two fixed wing and two helicopters searching the 1000 nautical miles.

"One aircraft can search that quite adequately provided you have enough eyes (in the plane)," he said.

The search area of the plane was determined by where the vessel was seen capsized.

The Cassandra has now sunk to the bottom and where the trawler was last seen oceans get to a depth of 40m.

But it is unclear if the wreckage will be searched for the pair.

"That depends on the coroner," Snr Sgt Whitehead said.

ROUGH SEAS: The search has been called off for missing fishermen David Chivers, inset, and Matt Roberts whose trawler, Cassandra, went missing in rough seas five miles east of Waddy Point on Fraser Island.
ROUGH SEAS: The search has been called off for missing fishermen David Chivers, inset, and Matt Roberts whose trawler, Cassandra, went missing in rough seas five miles east of Waddy Point on Fraser Island. Contributed

High swells in the area often hampered the search making visibility of the area poor and difficult to see.

Snr Sgt Whitehead said the swell also had an impact on the estimated survival times with the high seas meaning the pair would have quickly become exhausted.

He said it was unclear if either had been wearing a life jacket.

Police officially called off the aerial search at last light on Tuesday.

Owner of the Cassandra, Markwell Fisheries general manager Richard Brown said the company had hired a commercial aircraft in order to continue the search.

"At present we have one plane out searching," Mr Brown said.

"And that's the only information we can give at this stage."

Fraser Island police are conducting shoreline patrols at low tide to retrieve any debris which washes to shore.

UPDATE 1.15PM: 

THERE is still no sign of the two missing Bundaberg fisherman whose trawler capsized off Fraser Island on Monday.

David Chivers and Matthew Roberts have been missing for more than 52 hours after their prawn trawler, the Cassandra, was found capsized.

Owner of the Cassandra,  Markwell Fisheries general manager Richard Brown, spoke with the NewsMail and confirmed a plane had been hired and would continue the air search on Wednesday.

"At present we have one plane out searching," Mr Brown said.

"And that's the only information we can give at this stage."

Hervey Bay Water Police, who are co-ordinating the official search, called off the aerial search at last light on Tuesday.

UPDATE 11.15AM: THE owners of a trawler that sank off Fraser Island have hired a plane to continue the search for two missing Bundaberg fishermen.

David Chivers, 36 and Matthew Roberts, 61, were the only crew on the Cassandra when it was found capsized just before 7am on Monday.

Hervey Bay Water Police stopped the officially aerial search at last light on Tuesday.

Hervey Bay Water Police Acting Sergeant Craig Collings said a single plane had been hired.

"The business which manages the vessel has hired a plan to continue the search of the area," he said.

"We have assisted with provided a search area to them."

Sgt Collings said Fraser Island police would conduct patrols of the shoreline at low tide to retrieve debris from the Cassandra.

For two days helicopters and airplanes have scoured the waters off Fraser Island for prawn trawler workers David Chivers and Matt Roberts.

 

At sunset on Tuesday pilots ended their search

Hervey Bay Water Police Senior Constable Craig Collings said police would search along the shoreline from first light, but the official aerial search had concluded.

"The timeframe for survival has expired according to expert advice," he said.

The pair have not been seen since their vessel was found capsized about five nautical miles off Waddy Point just before 7am on Monday.

Mr Chivers, 36 and Mr Roberts, 61, were on the Bundaberg-based trawler the Cassandra, which other fishermen had seen working about 3am.

 Since then the only trace of the pair has been debris which has washed ashore on Fraser Island.

"We have got a lot of small stuff," Snr Const Collings said.

He said a lot of the debris which had washed ashore was from smaller items on the boat and a significant amount of it was broken.

While the debris was not marked, police are confident the items have come from the Cassandra.

Police have been in regular contact with the men's families since the search began.

YESTERDAY: The search started early after the fishermen had been lost at sea for more than 24 hours.

Both Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg RACQ CareFlight Rescue resumed fresh search efforts along with police beach patrols and a sea search by other trawler operators and Coast Guard.

The weather hindered search efforts and CareFlight line pilot Peter Marris said the wind was quite strong, 25 to 30 knots from the south east. "It's quite rough and not very pleasant for any sea vessels in the search area," Mr Marris said.

Two fixed wing aircraft joined the search. Hervey Bay Water Police Senior Constable Craig Collings said police would search along the shoreline from first light tomorrow, but the aerial search had now concluded. "The timeframe for survival has expired according to expert advice," he said.

The search area covered by CareFlight choppers today.
The search area covered by CareFlight choppers today. Eliza Goetze

MONDAY: Bundaberg trawlermen David Chivers, 36, and Matt Roberts, 61 were reported missing after their boat was found capsized near Fraser Island on Monday morning.

The two men were aboard the fishing trawler, the Cassandra, which was last seen about 3am on Monday morning.

The 17m prawn and scallop trawler was found capsized about five nautical miles off Waddy Point just before 7am. Hervey Bay water police lauched a search and rescue which consisted of 10 trawlers, a helicopter, two volunteer marine rescue units and an AMSA Dornea fixed wing aircraft.

The reports from the scene said that the seas were between two and four metres at times and there was winds of 27 to 30 knots. The search continued until last light despite the hazardous conditions.

 

 

UPDATE: 6.25PM

THE aerial search for two missing Bundaberg fishermen has been called off after police were told chances of their survival were slim.

For two days helicopters and airplanes have scoured the waters off Fraser Island for prawn trawler workers David Chivers and Matt Roberts.

At sunset on Tuesday, aircraft ended their search and are not expected to return.

Hervey Bay Water Police Senior Constable Craig Collings said police would search along the shoreline from first light, but the aerial search had now concluded.

"The timeframe for survival has expired according to expert advice," he said.

The pair have not been seen since their vessel was found capsized about five nautical miles off Waddy Point just before 7am on Monday.

UPDATE: 1.30PM

TWO fixed wing aircraft have joined the search for two Bundaberg fishermen missing off Fraser Island.

Prawn trawler workers David Chivers and Matt Roberts have not been seen since their vessel was found capsized about five nautical miles off Woody Point on Monday morning.

Hervey Bay Water Police Senior Constable Craig Collings said the search began at first light with two rescue helicopters.

 

"We have also accessed two fixed wing aircraft which are currently involved in the search," he said.

"The total search area of the aircraft is totalled to about 1000 nautical miles."

The rough conditions on the water means that no boats or trawlers have joined the search.

Snr Const Collings said police were in contact with the families.

UPDATE NOON

CareFlight line pilot Peter Marris is hoping to catch a glimpse of a life jacket or a bright shirt as he scans the ocean for two missing Bundaberg fishermen.

Mr Marris is flying one of two helicopters involved in the rescue effort over waters off Fraser Island .

His RACQ CareFlight chopper was tasked early yesterday morning and has continued today trying to locate the men.

Fishermen David Chivers and Matt Roberts were working on the Cassandra before it was found capsized about five nautical miles off Waddy Point on the eastern side of Fraser Island early Monday.

 

RACQ CareFlight line pilot Peter Marris stopped at Bundaberg Airport to refuel before flying back out to sea to search for missing fishermen David Chivers and Matt Roberts. Photo Ashley Clark / NewsMail
RACQ CareFlight line pilot Peter Marris stopped at Bundaberg Airport to refuel before flying back out to sea to search for missing fishermen David Chivers and Matt Roberts. Photo Ashley Clark / NewsMail Ashley Clark

Mr Marris spent most of yesterday in the air. He said his chopper spent close to 10 hours in the search zone helped by another aircraft and crew from Maroochydore.

Eight trawlers also searched on the water.

The NewsMail spoke to Mr Marris as he refuelled at Bundaberg airport this morning.

The 18-year veteran said the weather seemed to be better today than yesterday.

"Similar to yesterday, or maybe a bit better than yesterday, there was no rain out there this morning," Mr Marris said.

"But the wind is quite strong. 25 to 30 knots from the south east.

He said the swells were still 2m with lots of white caps and too dangerous for search vessels.

"It's quite rough and not very pleasant for any sea vessels in the search area."

The search area had been extended up to 50 - 60km from the initial search.

Yesterday they concentrated on the area where the trawler sank.

Both aircraft are manned with three to four crew per trip which includes a doctor, paramedic, aircrew and a pilot.

"We search at a fairly slow speed from a helicopter at about 200ft," he said.

"With four sets of eyes looking we are just looking for something in the water, anything that is unusual.

"If someone was in a life jacket or wearing bright coloured clothing and they were on the surface there is a reasonably good chance we would find them."

Mr Marris said the crew would search only with their eyes and if they needed to investigate something they see they would go close to the water to inspect.

He said they would continue to search under the advice of the water police.  

 

 

UPDATE: 9.50AM

MEMBER for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson has offered her support in the wake of two Bundaberg fisherman going missing from their trawler on Monday.

David Chivers and Matt Roberts were working on the Cassandra before it was found capsized about five nautical miles off Waddy Point on the eastern side of Fraser Island.

"My thoughts today are with the families and friends of the missing crew members," Ms Donaldson said.

"This is a tragedy that will touch many people in Bundaberg and it is a very sad time, not only for those involved in the fishing industry but for our city.

"I am sure our Bundaberg community will rally round to offer support and solace to those involved."

The search is continuing by air with rough seas making conditions too hazardous for vessels to be on the water.

Two helicopters are conducting patrols in the area and police are searching the shoreline.

UPDATE: 7.50AM

THE search for two Bundaberg fishermen who went missing from their trawler off Fraser Island resumed at first light on Tuesday.

But harsh weather conditions and the distance from shore has limited the search to the air.

The fishermen's vessel, the Cassandra was found capsized about five nautical miles of Waddy Point on Fraser Island just before 7am on Monday.

The fisherman have not been seen since.

Hervey Bay Water Police Acting Sergeant Craig Collings said two rescue helicopters were searching by air.

"The predicted sea heights are still up there two to three metres, he said.

Fraser Island Police and officers from national parks are also conducting shoreline searches for the two men.

Tin Can Bay Coast Guard searchers said they had to abort their mission yesterday about 3pm because high seas made it impossible to see and hazardous to remain.

They got back to base about 9pm or 10pm.

 

UPDATE: 6.30am

The search will resume this morning for two Bundaberg fishermen who have been lost at sea off Fraser Island for  more than 24 hours. 

Bundaberg fishermen Matt Roberts and David Chivers (pictured), aged 61 and 36, were last seen working on their vessel, Cassandra, about 3am on Monday.

Authorities said a full scale search would continue today in the waters off Waddy Point and the northern tip of Fraser Island.
The men's boat was found capsized by another vessel five nautical miles off Waddy Point early Monday morning.

Bundaberg's RACQ CareFlight Rescue Helicopter was tasked by Queensland Water Police to assist in the search for missing trawler crewmen at 6:53am yesterday.

The rescue helicopter conducted search and rescue operations throughout the day and was later joined by Sunshine Coast's RACQ CareFlight Rescue Helicopter at 2:21pm.

Both Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg RACQ CareFlight Rescue will resume fresh search efforts this morning along with police beach patrols and a sea search by other trawler operators and Coast Guard.  

UPDATE 8pm

RESCUERS have serious concerns about two Bundaberg men lost at sea after their prawn trawler was found capsized off Fraser Island this morning.

The air and sea search has been called off for the night but will resume at first light.

Bundaberg fisherman Matt Roberts and David Chivers (pictured), aged 61 and 36, who were last seen working on their vessel, Cassandra, about 3am on Monday.

Their boat was found capsized just hours later by another vessel five nautical miles off Waddy Point.

The 17m trawler is owned by Markwell Fisheries and the company's general manager, Richard Brown, said they were notified about the capsize early in the morning.

"The one and only concern we have is to bring the men home safely," Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown said the pair were both experienced on the seas and would have been routinely looking for prawns or scallops at the time.

 

UPDATE 5pm Monday:

"THE one and only concern we have is to bring the men home safely."

These are the words of the owner of the boat which sunk with two Bundaberg fishermen on board off Fraser Island early this morning.

An image from Flightradar 24 showing the search path of the rescue plane
An image from Flightradar 24 showing the search path of the rescue plane

 

Markwell Fisheries general manager Richard Brown said he was notified (Monday) that one of his trawlers had sunk earlier today.

He said the 17m trawler is owned by a New South Wales fishing company and had been working on the east coast of Queensland for a number of years.

"Hopefully we locate them in the next few hours," Mr Brown said.

 "The boat has been working out of Bundaberg for a couple of years.

"And the men were both experienced."

He said the boat would have been out routinely trawling for prawns or scallops when the incident happened.

Mr Brown said the only way a trawler was likely to sink or capsize was if its nets got caught on something under the ocean.

"If it gets hooked up in the reef or caught on a foreign object - that's the only way it can go under," he said.

"Our number one thing is to get the men home."

He said at this stage out of respect for the families involved he was not able to comment about the fishermen.

UPDATE 3.30 Monday: 

Rescuers are working to locate two Bundaberg fishermen who went missing from a prawn trawler on Monday morning.

The 17m trawler was found capsized about five nautical miles off Waddy Point just before 7am.

The fishermen, aged 61 and 36, were the only two people on the vessel.

Hervey Bay Water police Senior Constable Craig Collings said nearby trawlers and helicopters are battling high winds and seas.

"The conditions at the moment are quite difficult for vessels in the area," he said.

The reports from the scene that the seas are between two and four metres at times and there is winds from 27 to 30 knots."

The search is expected to continue until last light despite the hazardous conditions.

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No emergency beacon was set off despite the vessel having two beacons on board.

EARLIER: AN air and water search has been launched to find two men missing at sea after a trawler capsized.

The trawler was last seen at around 3am on Monday about five nautical miles off Waddy Point, Fraser Island.

It was found overturned at 6.45am.

The air and water search consists of 10 trawlers, a helicopter, two volunteer marine rescue units and an AMSA Dornea fixed wing aircraft.

Volunteer Marine Rescue crews
Volunteer Marine Rescue crews Contributed

Anyone who may have information regarding the incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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