Distraught friends of missing fisherman Justin Anderson at Wivenhoe Dam.
Distraught friends of missing fisherman Justin Anderson at Wivenhoe Dam. Sarah Harvey

Search is on for man at Wivenhoe

POLICE divers will resume their search for the body of missing Redbank Plains man Justin Anderson today.

The 27-year-old disappeared after an electric-powered canoe capsized on Wivenhoe Dam about 10.30am on Monday.

His friend, 27-year-old Redbank Plains man Daniel Mann, swam to the dam’s eastern bank and was rescued by police about 8.30am yesterday before being taken to Ipswich Hospital suffering from hypothermia.

Ipswich Inspector Merv Adamson told The Queensland Times police were due to resume their search for Mr Anderson and the canoe about 6am today.

He said Mr Anderson’s family had been told to expect the worst after an extensive search involving a rescue helicopter, water police vessels and sonar equipment failed to locate him.

“Based on information from (Daniel), Justin’s family have been told he drowned,” Insp Adamson said.

“Daniel said his mate went under water to remove his work boots when the canoe capsized and he didn’t see him again.

“Daniel swam for about three hours before reaching the far eastern side of the dam.

“He was very lucky it was during the day, he had a bit of time for his clothes to dry before it got too cold.”

INSP Adamson said Mr Mann was lucky to be alive after a marathon-like swim and walk along the edge of the dam.

“Daniel walked along the eastern side of the dam, where he was eventually found by police,” he said.

“He was obviously very cold and a bit shaken.”

Insp Adamson described the men as “friends who lived quite close by”.

“They were workmates and buddies,” he said.

“This is a very sad event.”

Insp Adamson said the men set off on their fishing trip from Logans Inlet about 7am on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.

He said police had based their search in water that was about 14 metres deep.

“They’d been to Wivenhoe a couple of times before, but they wanted to get a bit further out this time to get some better fish in deeper water. They’d only got catfish in the past and had about 40 kilograms of batteries in the canoe (for more power),” Insp Adamson said.

“Internal combustion engines are not permitted on Wivenhoe Dam to stop water pollution.

“General boating is allowed, but with electric motor, paddle or sail power only.”

Insp Adamson said conditions on the water were unpredictable and the men may not have been prepared.

“It looks like the canoe was hit by a wave and a gust of wind,” he said.

“There were 15 knot winds on the dam (on Monday) which created choppy conditions and the canoe overturned. The two guys were thrown into the water.

“They were due to return from fishing about 4pm and the alarm was raised when they failed to return.”

Insp Adam said the tragedy highlighted the need for safety equipment and floatation devices.

“These guys, to my understanding, had no safety gear and no life jackets on board the canoe,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing on the water, and I’m certainly not being critical of these two guys as individuals, but safety gear is always a must.

“You can’t afford to be complacent when you’re on the water.”

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