By Melissa Wishart
Hope is lost for the three people missing at sea after they fell from Paritutu Rock in Taranaki yesterday.
Joao Felipe De Melo, a 17 year old Brazilian exchange student, and Stephen Lewis Kahukaka-Gedye, also 17, fell into the water during an exercise run by Taranaki Outdoor Pursuit Education Centre (TOPEC), along with a third student, who was winched to safety. 42 year old Bryce John Jourdain dived in to rescue the students, but was also swept away.
Cold weather and rough conditions combined with the amount of time the trio have been lost, has police confirming that the rescue mission has since become a body recovery search.
“The reality is it is turning into a recovery mission now and we are focusing on recovery,” said Incident Controller Inspector Frank Grant this afternoon.
The group of eleven students were from Spotswood College, while Mr Jourdain was an instructor for TOPEC.
“I appreciate people still have a lot of questions to what occurred yesterday,” said Mr Grant. “We have an investigation underway that will run alongside a Labour Department investigation.”
He would not comment on the reason for the tragedy.
Celio Fernando, the father of the Brazilian student, said that his son used to practice sports. He held onto the hope that he would have been able to swim to safety and was awaiting rescue.
The rescued student was treated for hypothermia, and then discharged from hospital.