Body of Jay Cairney found during search for missing West Coast fishermen
A fisherman found dead after his boat sank nearly a week ago had "loved life in all its capacity", his family say.
The families of Greymouth men Kieran Lynch, 22, and Jay Cairney, 43, released statements on Wednesday after police revealed Cairney's body had been found by searchers on Tuesday afternoon.
The pair disappeared when the Greymouth-based fishing boat Wendy J apparently lost power and sank in poor weather near Jackson Bay, in South Westland, on Thursday night.
Lynch remains missing.
"It's very upsetting, very very hard," Cairney's uncle, Bill Cairney, said.
"[His brother] rung me last night saying he got news from police at the scene that they'd found him."
Police divers told Jay Cairney's brother he had received a "severe knock to the head", his uncle said.
Cairney's two siblings, based in Australia and Christchurch, had made their way to the West Coast.
"It's very hard for them, they only lost their dad 10 months ago," Bill Cairney said.
"But that's the occupation really, fishing, especially on the Tasman side of the island. You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you."
The families of both Cairney and Lynch released statements through police on Wednesday.
Lynch's family thanked police and search and rescue (SAR) volunteers who "are giving up their time and using their valuable knowledge".
"We are very grateful for their continued efforts," they said.
"We would also like to pass our heartfelt condolences and thoughts to the Cairney family at this sad time.
"We are still hopeful for the safe return of our loved and treasured Kieran."
Cairney's family said he was a "loving uncle to Jesse, Ebony, Holly, Tess, Jo, Zac, Brittany and Norton Cairney and loved life in all its capacity, generous to a fault".
"He looked up to and loved his big brother Shaun and sister Jodi Cairney and loved all his family to the end of the world and back," they said.
"He was also the life of the party, and a great uncle who would just love to spend time with all his nieces and nephews."
Jay Cairney was a very experienced fisherman and loved the sea. He always put others first before himself, his family said.
"He's now with Mum and Dad (Linda and Tika) and looking down on us all with his cheeky grin saying 'right guys and girls party for me' so we will," they said.
"Jay is so going to be missed by all who knew him, but everyone who knew him would know exactly what he would want us to do.
"Love you always Jay, from us all."
The skipper of the Wendy J, Mark Thomas, grabbed a life-ring in the water and made it to shore when the vessel sank. He took shelter in a flax bush and drank from a nearby creek – clad only in shorts and a T-shirt – before he was spotted and rescued on Saturday.
Sergeant Mathew Tailby said a search of the shoreline, nearby tracks, remote country and areas of the seabed had failed to find any sign of Lynch.
"Sadly police have reached the point where the search has exhausted these areas without any sign of the missing man," he said.
The Police National Dive squad joined the search on Tuesday near where the wreckage was found, around Smoothwater Bay and Homminy Cove.
"The police dive squad will attempt to complete their search [on Wednesday], however this is dependent on weather conditions," Tailby said.
Detective Constable Jayne Bretherton earlier said the boat was believed to have lost power before it sank.
Monday, September 11
▪ The Wendy J departs Greymouth, but reportedly returns with engine problems.
▪ The Wendy J gets into trouble near Jackson Bay, south of Greymouth, at night.
▪ 11:30am: A light plane spots debris and a life raft on the shoreline.
▪ 2:40pm: A search helicopter locates skipper Mark Thomas on a rock and collects him.
▪ 7pm: Search suspended for the night.
▪ Helicopter and ground crews search the Smoothwater Bay area.
▪ 6:45pm: Search suspended for the night.
▪ A helicopter continues the search.
▪ The police dive squad is expected to arrive at night.
▪ The body of Jay Cairney is found.
▪ There is still no sign of Kieran Lynch.