Missing yachtie Andrew Heard remains missing off Hinchinbrook Island.
Missing yachtie Andrew Heard remains missing off Hinchinbrook Island.

Search for man turns in croc infested waters

UPDATE: The search for missing Cairns yachtie Andy Heard in the Hinchinbrook Island area has turned up what is believed to be human remains.

At 10.30am Queensland Police in collaboration with Department of Environments and science wildlife officers made the announcement following an extensive sea search.

About 5am on Friday police contacted the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service for advice and assistance after a damaged 2.5m dingy was located upside down near the mouth of the Gayundah Creek on the southwestern side of Hinchinbrook Island.

 

Cairns sailor Andy Heard has been missing off Hinchinbrook Island since Thursday.
Cairns sailor Andy Heard has been missing off Hinchinbrook Island since Thursday.

 

Flags at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron this morning flying at half-mast.
Flags at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron this morning flying at half-mast.


On Friday wildlife officers said it was "highly likely" that the missing sailor could have been taken by a saltwater crocodile after marks were found on his upturned tender.

A police spokesman said in plain terms some human remains had been found but the search would continue today to locate further remains of the missing man.

"The police officers are working up there with the family," he said.

 

 

 

Sailing the area with partner Erica Lang on board their vessel Shiraz, the alarm was raised when Mr Heard took the boat's tender fishing on Thursday but never returned

Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron's Dayna Russell said flags at the club were flying at half-mast this morning.

"In a way we are kind of relieved they did find his body, but we are devastated for (Mr Heard's partner) Erica and her losing her best mate," she said.

"He was always the first bloke to lend a hand and one of the guys said today he was like a father figure to lots of people in our club, he was the old saltie dog.

"We have put the flags at half-mast and put some flowers out in cheers to Andy and what meant to us."

 

Yachties Erica Lang and Andy Heard keep on board their yacht on a cold morning in Trinity Inlet in 2019. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Yachties Erica Lang and Andy Heard keep on board their yacht on a cold morning in Trinity Inlet in 2019. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

A joint Queensland Police Service and Department of Environment and Science spokesman said it was thought the found remains belonged to the missing 69-year-old yachtie.

"Police believe the remains are those of the missing man, however forensic testing will be required to confirm this," he said.

Police with the assistance of State Emergency Service volunteers, Coast Guard personnel, officers from DES and local fishermen continue to search the area.

DES wildlife officers are continuing their search for a crocodile.

One team is already at the site and a second crew will be there shortly.

 

 

Missing man Andy Heard's yacht Shiraz. The boat remains in the Hinchinbrook area with partner Erica Lang onboard.
Missing man Andy Heard's yacht Shiraz. The boat remains in the Hinchinbrook area with partner Erica Lang onboard.

 

 

EARLIER: A life member of the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron missing off Hinchinbrook Island has been identified as passionate Cairns-based yachtie Andy Heard.

Sailing the area with partner Erica Lang on board their vessel Shiraz, the alarm was raised when Mr Heard took the boat's tender fishing on Thursday. but never returned.

About 5am on Friday police contacted the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service for advice and assistance after a damaged 2.5m dingy was located upside down near the mouth of the Gayundah Creek on the southwestern side of Hinchinbrook Island.

 

Andrew Heard with his partner Erica Lang.
Andrew Heard with his partner Erica Lang.

Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron's Dayna Russell overcome with grief said the situation facing the much loved club member was dire.

"The club is truly gutted. Everyone will be here for Erica when she gets back," she said.

"He loved his fishing and he had been battling cancer. He was an amazing person."

Concerns have been raised by wildlife officers that Mr Heard could have been taken by a saltwater crocodile after marks were found on his upturned tender.

"He went out fishing at 3pm. All through the night I stayed up then I heard they found the tender but no Andy," Ms Russell said.

 

Former commodore of the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron Andrew Heard and partner Erica Lang.
Former commodore of the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron Andrew Heard and partner Erica Lang.

 

"He is very capable, so (whatever) happened, it must have been pretty big croc."

Ms Russell said Mr Heard's son had travelled to assist in the search which is yet to find any trace of the missing yachtie.

Cairns police Acting Inspector Andrew Cowie on Friday morning said authorities were considering "all issues" when asked if a crocodile could have been involved.

"There are a number of environmental dangers in that area," he said. "Our priority at the moment is to locate him.

 

 

Police search for missing 69-year-old man in Hinchinbrook Island. PICTURE: QPS
Police search for missing 69-year-old man in Hinchinbrook Island. PICTURE: QPS

 

"We have a number of resources focusing on mangroves in the area."

Wildlife officer Ren Bone said that based on the damage, "we do believe there is some involvement of a crocodile".

"What involvement that is, we're not entirely sure at this stage," he said.

Acting Inspector Cowie urged anyone with any information to contact authorities.

The Hinchinbrook waters are notorious for its population of saltwater crocodiles, as well as sharks. Local fishermen, SES, Coast Guard and DES are assisting police with the search.

 

Missing man Andy Heard's yacht Shiraz. Its understood the boat remains in the Hinchinbrook area with Mr Heard’s partner Erica Lang onboard.
Missing man Andy Heard's yacht Shiraz. Its understood the boat remains in the Hinchinbrook area with Mr Heard’s partner Erica Lang onboard.

 

Originally published as Search for Cairns yachtie turns up grisly find in croc infested waters



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