search called off

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
In the search for the 23-year-old woman, one of the two men who attempted to rescue her, and a paramedic were injured and airlifted from the rocks.
Camera IconIn the search for the 23-year-old woman, one of the two men who attempted to rescue her, and a paramedic were injured and airlifted from the rocks. Credit: Catherine Massey/Catherine Massey

Hopes have been dashed for the recovery of a 23-year-old woman’s body after she was swept off the rocks at Yallingup’s Injidup Spa on Sunday, with calls for greater water safety measures in the area becoming increasingly desperate.

The South Australian woman had recently moved to WA for work and was holidaying in the area with friends when she was swamped by a wave at the tourist hotspot.

She is the second tourist this year to be washed off Injidup’s coastline, alongside international student Heng Yi Goh who was swept off the rocks four months ago.

The search was suspended early on Wednesday and Bunbury Police District Office Inspector Steve George said “expert advice quantified there was no chance of survival and the missing person would have likely drowned”.

“An examination of all information determined a high search coverage factor has been achieved and had the missing person still been on the surface she would have been located,” he said.

On Monday, Insp. George confirmed two of her acquaintances attempted to rescue her but were not strong swimmers and made the tough decision to return to the rocks.

One acquaintance was injured in the ordeal, as was a volunteer paramedic, and both were airlifted from the rocks.

The family of the missing woman have chosen not to release her name.

Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue vice-commander Paul Bresland said the second day of the search experienced a decline in weather conditions and finished about 3pm.

“It was onshore and there was a bit of swell...the boat was used only as a platform for police divers,” he said.

On the final day of the search boats were on standby while drones searched from above.

Member for Vasse Libby Mettam said the coastline in this area was “treacherous” and while locals were aware of the risks, visitors were not as knowledgeable.

“There is signage but in light of this tragic death, and also the fact that this is the second death at this site this year, I have written to the minister for environment, asking that the department consider installing larger signs that address the recent fatalities and the direct risk to swimmers and general sightseers,” Ms Mettam said.

She said she had spoken with locals and emergency service personnel who supported her stance.

“As the spa is usually quite a popular spot with international visitors, it could be helpful if new signage could include translations into different languages,” she said.

“This is a very popular and beautiful spot and any action to make this a safer place to visit is important,” she said.

The DBCA said each year it conducted reviews of the signs at Injidup Spa.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said his heart went out to the family and friends.

“It is such a tragic accident and we are deeply saddened that this has occurred so close to home,” he said. “We also extend our gratitude to the brave and dedicated search and recovery teams involved,” Cr Henley said.

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