Koori man?s body pulled from river
By ADRIAN MILLER
MACLEAN'S tight-knit Aboriginal community is in mourning after a man drowned in the Clarence River overnight on Wednesday.
The man, 41, was yesterday found floating close to shore about 100 metres south of Maclean's McNaughton Place boat ramp.
He was pulled from the river just before 11am by water police and Maclean SES volunteers. The man was with two friends on the riverbank opposite John Street when he stumbled into the river just after 7.30pm on Wednesday, police said.
He was immediately swept 50 metres downstream and was last seen alive near the River Street boat ramp trying to remove his jacket.
Police were called to the scene by his companions, and along with SES personnel, searched the riverbank and nearby area for the man.
The search was called off just after 10.30pm on Wednesday and resumed at 8am yesterday.
Four boats were involved in the search yesterday, including water police from Coffs Harbour and police from Grafton, Yamba and Maclean.
SES members from Grafton, Yamba and Maclean were also enlisted to help.
Coffs/Clarence duty officer, Chief Inspector Paul Klievens, could not confirm reports the man was intoxicated.
"We're not totally sure of the circumstances surrounding it," he said.
"At the moment we're speculating because I don't know if that was a factor or not."
Chief Insp Klievens said police would have to wait on the coroner's report.
"The coroner will determine the cause of death and ... (is) the only person who can decide on that," he said.
"I imagine they will do toxicology tests and that sort of thing and they'll be able to determine what level of alcohol he had in his system."
Chief Insp Klievens said police could not release the name of the victim until his body had been formally identified by relatives.
Conditions on the river were calm on Wednesday, with little wind and a relatively normal high tide of 1.7 metres.
The Daily Examiner fishing columnist, Dick Richards, said the river couldn't be classed as treacherous.
"When you get big tides it does speed up a little bit but that's the same as in every river, there's nothing unusual about that," he said.
"I wouldn't say the river is in any way dangerous (and) anyone who is a reasonable swimmer wouldn't have problems."