JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Family of missing five-year-old Chayce Kofe share their pain on Facebook

Date

Rachel Olding and Saffron Howden

Five-year-old Chayce Kofe, who went missing at Pearl Beach on the central coast.

Five-year-old Chayce Kofe, who went missing at Pearl Beach on the central coast.

The central coast beach where five-year-old Chayce Kofe went missing on Thursday is one of the most deceptively dangerous beaches in the state, a local resident says. 

Anthony Learmonth, who did a thesis on the beach morphology at Pearl Beach, said most locals wouldn't let their kids anywhere near the water on particular days.

A massive air and sea search involving helicopters, jet skis and boats was launched at Pearl Beach after Chayce Kofe was swept out to sea by a wave.

"Cannons going off": waves break on Pearl Beach as rescuers search.

"Cannons going off": waves break on Pearl Beach as rescuers search. Photo: Dean Sewell

It is believed he was playing in the shallows with family members at the time.

Mr Learmonth saw Pearl Beach just hours before Chayce went missing and described the waves as "cannons going off".

"The surf was absolutely slamming onto the beach and washing up well across the sand," he said. "The breaking waves were extremely violent." 

A group of relatives keep vigil on the beach on Friday.

A group of relatives keep vigil on the beach on Friday. Photo: Dean Sewell

His research found that Pearl Beach is made of extremely coarse sand, unlike any other beach in Sydney, and as a result waves don't break offshore and gradually roll in. They break directly onto the beach-face itself. 

"In a lull between sets it can look deceptively calm, then 30 seconds later you have a six-foot [180-centimetre] wave exploding right onto the beach-face with no notice. It’s very hard to pick what’s happening until it's right on top of you."

Pearl Beach is also unusually deep, so once a swimmer is dragged out by a wave, they become stuck in a "washing machine", he said.

Chayce Kofe: rescue services have said the mission is a "recovery phase".

Chayce Kofe: rescue services have said the mission is a "recovery phase".

Neighbouring Umina Beach has fine sand and calm conditions, making the two spots like "Jekyll and Hyde", he said.

"My partner wouldn’t let her kids go in the water at Pearl Beach when they were smaller because it's just too dangerous. Locals know it but it’s a big holiday house destination, a lot of people rent out houses there and they don't know the risks."

There is no signage at Pearl Beach and it is unpatrolled. 

There was a weather warning for large swells issued on Thursday.

Family's anguish

Chayce Kofe's aunt shared her hope and pain on Facebook as the search continued for her missing nephew.

"Deverstated to loose my little nephew today ... we will find Chayce ... Loving you always Aunty Wella [sic]," Ms Kupu wrote as she reposted the NSW Police statement about the accident to her profile page.

As comments of support and concern poured in, Ms Kupu began to share pictures of Chayce.

"Deverstating news for our family today...the passing of our nephew Chayce kofe....Where there are no words know the silence are carrying the thoughts and prayers of all who love you Chayce [sic]" said Ms Kupu.

"I may have only held you in my arms for a moment.....But i will HOLD you im my heart forever Chayce...Loving you always [sic]."

It is believed Ms Kupu and her family had rented a house on the beach at the small, seaside hamlet.

Early on Friday morning, local police and almost 40 lifesavers were back on the water in a renewed search.

Police have conceded that the search for five-year-old Chayce Kofe has become a "retrieval operation".

"We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we are now in the recovery phase," said Acting Superintendent Paul Nicholls.

The boy's parents arrived at the rental property on Friday morning.

With Rose Powell

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo