Missing SA boatie Tony Higgins’ search called off amid rough weather off Victor Harbor
Police have called off a large-scale maritime search for a missing South Australian boatie as wild weather closes in on the coast.
The operation to find Tony Higgins, who was on board the timber-hulled Margrel, entered its third day on Thursday.
The skipper on Tuesday reported the boat was taking on water in rough seas off Granite Island, south of Adelaide.
Early on Wednesday morning, a commercial fisherman found a number of items of debris washed ashore, several kilometres southeast from the Murray Mouth.
Police say Higgins’ wallet containing his ID has also been found.
Derek Robinson, who was on Higgins’ boat when it went missing the first time earlier this month, spoke to the media unannounced during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
He called for kindness as his mate remains missing.
“He wanted to get from Coffin Bay to Goolwa… that was his thing,” Robinson said.
“All the nastiness on social media… he probably thought, ‘Stuff you guys, I’m going to charge through it’.
“Have a bit of heart, there’s family out there that are missing this fella.”
He says despite the debris, which he confirmed to be from the boat, he believes Higgins is still alive.
“His boat’s gone down but I can only hope he’s got a life jacket on and he’s made it to land,” Robinson said.
“He’s a bit nutty but he’s a likeable fella… he’s a good fella.”
The search for Higgins and Robinson involved Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Air Force and Kangaroo Island and Volunteer Marine Rescue and cost upwards of $650,000.
After that rescue, SA Police issued Higgins with a $1,000 fine for insufficient safety equipment and no operator’s licence.