Paul Arber 'found' in NZ river
Friend of Paul Arber is "100 per cent" certain the body recovered from Waikato River is the missing tennis coach, though police say formal identification could take some time.PT1M31S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2z8i4 620 349 December 12, 2013
The body pulled from the Waikato River this morning is that of missing Australian tennis coach Paul Arber, a friend has confirmed.
"The guy's in black shorts, he's been missing four days, there's really not much doubt. It's 100 per cent," close friend Mark Sheppard told the Waikato Times.
"It's the worst possibility but I think we've been building ourselves up to it for the past four days that it could have been a possibility for sure...we can't say we were surprised."
Paul Arber. Photo: Peter Haskin/The Australian Jewish News
The Australian tennis tour team, including Mr Arber's parents Richelle and Sam Arber, held a ceremony on the banks of the river this morning near where the body was found.
A schoolgirl rowing crew discovered a body in the Waikato River earlier on Thursday, near to where New Zealand police have been searching for Mr Arber, from Melbourne.
Mr Sheppard said he wanted to make it clear that Mr Arber was in a "tranquil and happy" state when he went into the river.
Mark Sheppard speaks about his friend Paul Arber. Photo: Bruce Mercer/Waikato Times
"Paul was getting in touch with nature, it was 4am, he's actually gone into that river to have a swim," he said.
"He hasn't been in the mental frame of mind to ascertain the dangers of the river or the treachery of the river, but what actually happened to Paul was an accident. It was 100 per cent an accident.
"He was in a happy state of mind and in a tranquil state of mind."
Friends and family gather on the banks of the Waikato River to remember Paul Arber. Photo: Bruce Mercer/Waikato Times
Mr Arber was in Hamilton coaching eight young tennis players who competed in the Waikato Christmas Junior Tournament.
He was part of a wider group of about 50 Australian coaches and players and was last seen early on Sunday, walking in and out of the river near Hamilton East, about 120 kilometres south of Auckland.
He is a former Kooyong Tennis Club captain and the 2012 Victorian Jewish Tennis Champion.
The children on the tennis tour were upset but had decided to keep playing in the tournament, Mr Sheppard said.
"Because of Paul every single one of them wants to partake in the tour. They still want to keep going because they've said that Paul has taught them you've got to be a fighter, you've got to be tough, you've got to have determination and in respect for Paul they want to go ahead with the tour."
Mr Arber's parents were finding the situation hard but were grateful to the people of New Zealand and police for their help, Mr Sheppard said.
"Obviously they're terribly upset about it," he said.
"Mr Arber and Mrs Arber thought the location where everything was found, as morbid as it might sound, they just thought he couldn't have wished for anywhere more beautiful.
"In the worst possible outcome, they felt as happy as they could possibly be."
Earlier, Hamilton woman Beth Lynch was walking her dog down the west side of the river when she heard the girls in the boat screaming.
"I thought one of them had fallen out of the boat, but then I heard one of them yell out 'Oh my god, I've hit him, I've hit him,' " she said.
Mrs Lynch said she then saw a body floating swiftly down the river.
"I just feel so sorry for the girls in that boat, it's just horrible."