SEARCHING: Beach and sea patrols have continued in the search for the Sydney man, who went missing off Bennetts Beach on Friday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.UPDATE, 5.30pm:POLICE admit they may never know whether a sudden sandbar collapse contributed to the death of a young Sydney man, whose body has been recovered four days after he was washed off a Hawks Nest beach.
An early morning walker foundthe body of Timothy O’Brien on Tuesday just 500 metres from where he and three mates were suddenly whisked into a boiling seaoff Bennetts Beach last Friday.
The menwere quickly swept away in a rip on Friday afternoon, despite only venturing into water less than waist deep.
With some locals describing Friday’s conditionsas some they had neverwitnessed,Sergeant Jeff Farmer said a sudden sandbar collapse may haveleft the men floundering in deeper water before the rip took hold.
“One minute they were less than waist deep and suddenly they were gone; they needed to be in deeper water before the rip would have taken hold of them,’’ Sergeant Farmer said.\
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
EARLIER: THE body of a young swimmer has been recovered about 500 metres from where he was washed away in a rip on a Hawks Nest beach on Friday.
An early-morning walker discovered the body in shallow water on Bennetts Beach about 5.30am on Tuesday.
It followed a four-day search for 20-year-old Sydney man Timothy O’Brien, who had not been seen since he was swept away in raging currents while swimming with three other friends on Friday afternoon.
Water police had been joined by lifeguards on jetskis and inflatable boats while four-wheel drives patrolled beaches.
Mr O’Brien’s family and friends had continued a beachside vigil since Saturday.
His bodywas foundabout 500 metres north of Yacaaba Headland, the northern headland of Port Stephens, which is about 500 metres south of where the men got into trouble in waist deep water.
One of Mr O’Brien’sfriends was able to make it to shore and raise the alarm before a young lifesaver, AshleighSearle, bravely paddled out to save two of the swimmers.