close
close
blog

Search continues in Wellington Harbor for man who fell from ferry, police seek public information

Police would like to hear from anyone with information about the man who fell overboard of a ferry in Wellington Harbor early this morning.

Detective Sergeant Rachael Boyd said the East by West ferry was traveling towards Days Bay, Eastbourne from Queens Wharf and departed shortly after 6am.

“The man is described as being in his 40s, with light skin, around 180cm tall and with darker hair,” he said.

“He was wearing a dark zip-up jacket and dark pants.”

AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.

The New Zealand Maritime Rescue Coordination Center coordinated a comprehensive in-water search effort using detailed modeling and analysis of the port and search efforts.

Up to 14 boats and a rescue helicopter participated in the search at its peak.

The Westpac rescue helicopter can be seen on Flight Radar searching Wellington Harbor after a person reportedly fell from a harbor ferry.
The Westpac rescue helicopter can be seen on Flight Radar searching Wellington Harbor after a person reportedly fell from a harbor ferry.

“Unfortunately, the man has not been located and the active search has been temporarily suspended pending a review,” Boyd said.

“If you have just arrived home and have a family member or friend matching this description who has not returned home as expected, please contact police.”

AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.

Deputy Port Director Patrick Atwood said he understood about 12 boats and a helicopter were searching for the person.

“I got a call from the Wellington Harbor radio… saying someone was missing from the harbor ferry.

“It was the first ferry of the day, there was only one passenger on board and that passenger, as the ferry approached Days Bay, realized that person was missing.”

Atwood said it was not common for people to fall overboard in the harbor.

“I got the call at 7:20 a.m., I guess it would have taken me a few minutes to get it through…I’d estimate (the person fell into the water) around 6:30 a.m.,” Atwood said.

“It’s a local harbor ferry, it goes from Queens Wharf to Days Bay.”

Greater Wellington and East by West Ferries today extended their sincere thanks to all the agencies and individuals involved in the search.

Greater Wellington president Daran Ponter said the regional council’s thoughts and prayers are with the missing passenger and his loved ones.

“The Greater Wellington whānau is deeply saddened by this incident. Our thoughts are with the crew of the boat sailing at 6am and also the staff at East by West,” Ponter said.

AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.

“We would also like to extend our thanks to the marine police and all the crews who responded to this emergency and are assisting with the search.”

East by West Ferries general manager Mat Jonsson said the ferry crew issued an emergency call and began searching as soon as they realized the passenger was missing.

“We called a second ferry from the port to assist with the search, which was joined by other boats that responded to the rescue,” Jonsson said.

“This morning conditions in the port were very calm. The main cabin of the boat involved is completely enclosed and the upper deck has barriers around the passenger area to prevent anyone from accidentally falling overboard.

“We thank New Zealand Police for the speed with which they took control of the search and the resources they committed. “We are assisting the police with their investigations and have decided that East by West Ferries will not resume services today.”

Police send Lady Elizabeth II to search Wellington Harbor for a passenger believed to have fallen overboard from an East by West ferry.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Police send Lady Elizabeth II to search Wellington Harbor for a passenger believed to have fallen overboard from an East by West ferry. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Metlink group director Samantha Gain said the ferry company’s response to the emergency was exemplary.

AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.

“In extremely difficult circumstances, East by West followed emergency procedures and committed all available resources to the search. “The affected crew are receiving support and Metlink stands ready to provide our ferry operator with any assistance they require,” Gain said.

Earlier today, Atwood said the search and rescue operation was well coordinated.

“The number of crews that joined the search was impressive. “It was encouraging to see vessels from the Maritime Police Unit, Coast Guard, Wellington Airport Maritime Rescue, Interislander, Nautilus Pacific and Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust all following instructions from the rescue co-ordination centre.” Atwood said.

Greater Wellington has notified its mana whenua partners, who will likely place a rāhui in Wellington Harbor at the appropriate time.

“Please comply with the rāhui, which will restrict kaimoana gathering and recreational activities in part of the harbour,” Ponter said.

East by West Ferries will resume normal services tomorrow.

AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.

Related Articles

Back to top button