Rescue chopper resumes search for man missing in floodwaters
UPDATE, Friday, 8.45am: THE Westpac Rescue Life Saver Helicopter has just been tasked to continue the search for the missing 72-year-old man who disappeared in floodwaters at Larnook on Wednesday.
Four crew members will be on board, including a rescue crew member, air crew member, paramedic and pilot.
Helicopter service media spokesman Roger Fry said they would continue to search 5km down Leycester Creek to the bridge, sweeping backwards and forwards to help SES and other emergency services locate the missing man.
Police divers are expected to arrive at the search scene this afternoon.
UPDATE, Thursday, 4.30pm: IT HAS been almost 24 hours since a Billen Cliffs man went missing in floodwaters after trying to cross a bridge at Larnook, but emergency service workers are still hopeful he will be found alive.
Lismore Police Inspector Craig Ahrens said: "We always are (hopeful of finding the man).
"We've certainly put in a number of resources in an effort to locate him.
"The SES are still on scene here along with police rescue.
"They've managed to a search from the bridge here to about 2km downstream."
Today's search has been thorough, but rescuers have been hampered by entanglements and submerged objects.
Insp Ahrens said those areas would need to be physically searched by police divers.
"We have a number police rescue and SES in wetsuits which are assisting us, but as I said the conditions have dropped somewhat, but still our indications are that there probably another foot of water level to drop," he said.
"We have made a phone call for police divers.
"If and when, they are deployed from Sydney. We have to provide the feedback in regards to the search and the SES and also the general conditions and that will obviously effect the diver deployment at this time."
UPDATE, 3pm: POLICE divers are on standby to help emergency services look for a man who has been missing in floodwaters since yesterday afternoon.
Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Craig Ahrens told media at the scene at Martins Bridge at Larnook that the search for the 72-year-old man would continue throughout the afternoon.
He said the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter had been flying up and down Leycester Creek and SES crews had been out on the water all day.
"We re-attended the scene at first light this morning and assessed the conditions we were dealing with," Insp Ahrens said.
"The water has dropped quite significantly, somewhere in the order of about one-and-a-half to two metres.
"The current itself has somewhat slowed, although still contributing to the making searching somewhat difficult at this point in time time.
"We were able to activate the Westpac rescue helicopter which was able to do a number of sweeps from this bridge (Martins Bridge) four kilometres downstream.
"During that time there was no sight of anyone from their search. They continued on further downstream towards Lismore.
"They got back in touch with us, there was no sign of any person they could find."
When asked why the search was called off last night, Insp Ahrens said they had a "duty of care" to the emergency service crews and volunteers.
He also said the conditions were not good.
Police divers in Sydney are now on standby and may arrive as early as tomorrow morning.
UPDATE, 1pm: Watch our video as a man recounts the harrowing moments his friend was swept from Martin Bridge at Larnook.
Emergency services continue the search for the 72-year-old local man.
UPDATE, 10am: AN EYEWITNESS has told how he watched helplessly as his mate was swept away by floodwaters.
Bo Kaan, of Billen Cliffs, said he was following the man, known as Derek, as they approached the flooded creek late yesterday.
"He just overshot the edge, he just misjudged the edge because of the speed of the river and the way it was so deceptive," Mr Kaan said.
"He said, 'follow me across', and I said, 'you got a tow rope?' and he said, 'you're joking'.RecurringInline: sites criteria not met
"I said to him, 'can you swim?' … he said, 'not very well'.
"And I said, 'well make sure you get on the roof if you go off' … then I watched him go off."
Mr Kaan said it was "very traumatic" and a "helpless feeling".
"There's nothing you can do … apart from call the SES and they took an hour to get here," he said.
The missing man, Derek, has been described as one of the pioneers of Billen Cliffs who bought his share many years ago and said it was his "dream place" to retire.
Mr Kaan said Derek was a "great asset to our community".
He also said he would like to see guideposts installed on the side of causeways like the one on Martin Bridge at Larnook.
"It's terrible when you watch it happen," he said.
"He hung on to the tree … but I don't think he had the strength to hang on."
"It would be wonderful if he was just stretched out in a paddock getting a suntan
"Derek's used to it; we're all pretty experienced.
"I've crossed this bridge for 35 years, I know it, and I was shocked.
"These things (guideposts) would have saved his life, and would have saved a lot of cars that have gone off over the years."
UPDATE, 9.10am: THE Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is continuing to search for a missing man at Larnook.
The 72-year-old man was swept away in flood waters yesterday afternoon after attempting to cross Martin Bridge in his car.
Westpac Helicopter service media spokesman Roger Fry said there were five crew members on board today, including a paramedic, doctor and a swift water specialist.
"Yesterday we were searching from the bridge down the river about 3-4kms," he said.
"We will generally be doing the same today.
"I think the water will be subsiding by now."
Mr Fry said the helicopter would continue the search for about 20 more minutes, before returning to base for fuel and to find out the next phase of the plan.
UPDATE, 8.15am: CREWS from the State Emergency Service have now arrived at Martin Bridge, Larnook.
A briefing is under way before the search for the missing man continues.
UPDATE, 7.45am: POLICE rescue crews have arrived at Martin Bridge at Larnook this morning to resume a desperate search for a man in his 70s, who went missing yesterday after trying to cross the flooded bridge.
Floodwaters have receded significantly, and the man's car, an old Land Rover, is perched precariously in some trees.
Police officers are inspecting the vehicle this morning.
It is understood the missing man is a local person and a "valued member of the community".
SES crews have not yet arrived at the scene, and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter said they had not yet been re-tasked to the search.
THURSDAY 5.45am: EMERGENCY services are expected to resume searching for a man lost in floodwater this morning.
The 72-year-old man was driving on Martin Road, Larnook, near Kyogle, about 3.45pm Wednesday when his car became trapped in floodwater, police said.
Police were told the man's vehicle was swept from a concrete causeway into Leycester Creek resulting in his vehicle overturning.
The man was seen by witnesses to climb from the vehicle and hold onto a nearby tree, before being swept downstream a short time later.
Police, together with State Emergency Service volunteers and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter commenced a search for the man, but this was suspended about 5.45pm due to poor light.
Police are urging people to take care on the roads during the poor weather conditions and remind both motorists and pedestrians to never enter floodwater.
UPDATE 6.30pm: Rescuers have been forced to suspend the search for a man who was swept away in floodwaters after trying to cross Martin Bridge at Larnook.
A spokeswoman from NSW Police media has just confirmed the search was suspended "due to poor light and conditions".
Emergency services will return to the scene at first light in the morning.
UPDATE 5.40pm: The sun has gone down on a mission to find a man who has been swept off Martin Bridge at Larnook.
Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has landed back at the Lismore helibase and confirmed it will not continue the search tonight due to low cloud.
A NSW Police Media spokeswoman said police would continue searching for the man until it became impossible to do so.
She said each search effort was determined by the coordinator on the scene and depended on weather and light as to whether it was feasible to continue.
The spokeswoman noted that the SES boats had lights for night time searching.RecurringInline: sites criteria not met
UPDATE 5.15pm: Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is doing one more sweep of the flood water and Leycester Creek where a man has been swept off Martin Bridge at Larnook.
Police Rescue will continue to conduct a water search and a second SES boat is on its way.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGERecurringInline: sites criteria not met
UPDATE 5pm: The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has been tasked to Martin Bridge Rd at Larnook where a man is still missing after he was last seen clinging to a tree in floodwaters.
A crew member said the helicopter would attempt to locate the man's whereabouts and if feasible winch him to safety.
Rivers and creeks across the Wilsons River catchment are rising rapidly after heavy rainfall today.
UPDATE 4.21pm Reports that the water is very fast flowing. Police and SES making their way up and down the river searching for the man.
UPDATE 4.13pm: Numerous police and SES Kyogle are searching for the man. Helicopter on the way, police have set up a command post.
A car has been swept off the road at Martin Bridge Road, Larnook. From accounts at the scene a 70 year old man has been pulled out of the car by the floods and is clinging to a tree floating down a river. Multiple police attending the scene.
Richmond LAC Police have issued the warning: "Never drive through a flooded road! You are putting your life and those of emergency services at great risk."
ORIGINAL: RICHMOND Tweed SES are responding to reports that a man is clinging to a tree after his car was washed away on Martin Bridge at Larnook.
NSW SES Richmond Tweed deputy incident controller, Wayne Pettit, said rescue crews from Lismore and Kyogle were called and the job is still under way.