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Wallet of missing South Australian boatie Tony Higgins found washed ashore during search

By Alice Dempster, Wednesday September 23, 2020 - 23:24 EST
ABC licensed image
A life buoy and jerry cans were among debris discovered earlier. - ABC licensed

Personal items including a wallet belonging to missing South Australian boatie Tony Higgins have been found washed ashore, police have confirmed.

Inspector Gus Sickerdick said Mr Higgins's wallet was found in a bag with his ID inside, as well as keys and glasses, near the Murray Mouth.

Marine rescue teams are continuing the search for Mr Higgins and his boat, the Margrel, .

Police said the search had covered a wide area including around Victor Harbor and the Coorong, but efforts had been hampered by "very poor" weather conditions over the past couple of days.

"It's been impossible to see anything, given the nature of the surf and everything out there," Inspector Sickerdick said.

Despite the adverse weather, police still hope to find Mr Higgins alive — but concede the chances of that are reducing.

"We always hope we do find him alive. Obviously as it goes on, the chances of doing that are diminishing," Inspector Sickerdick said.

"We've got to bear in mind the conditions, the nature of the surf."

Police have been in contact with Mr Higgins's son to let him know his father's ID had been found, by members of the public, among items washed up.

"Those items included a small bag in which were some glasses, a couple of sets of keys," Inspector Sickerdick said.

"Also we've found a wallet and in the wallet is the identification of Mr Higgins, so that confirms the property did belong to him."

The discovery follows , including a life buoy and jerry cans.

A local commercial fisherman discovered the items washed ashore several kilometres south-east of the Murray Mouth, near Goolwa, about 6:30am.

The Margrel was when Mr Higgins and his friend Derek Robinson travelled from Port Lincoln to Goolwa.

'Have a bit of empathy'

Mr Robinson was on the boat for nearly a week during the last search, and is holding out hope Mr Higgins would be found alive.

"Miss you man, come back, people miss you," Mr Robinson said.

"Tony is a great fellow, he's a bit nutty, but he's a definite character, a likeable character."

Mr Robinson said his friend had wanted to get his boat onto the River Murray via the Murray Mouth and he may have tried to do so in recent days, after receiving "nastiness" from people online.

"What kind of society do we live in where once someone's down we've got to kick him and we've got to keep kicking him," Mr Robinson said.

"He just would have got fed up with the amount of crap he would have had to put up with."

Mr Robinson said authorities could have done more to help Mr Higgins after the first search was over.

"He was dragged to Granite Island, they fined him, charged him and then they just left him there to his own devices in the seas," he said.

"If his boat needed fixing, they should have said 'we'll help bring you in, you have to incur the costs' but I think they should have given him a hand."

Another friend, Grant Lauchlan, lent him jerry cans for his first trip from Eyre Peninsula.

They were found washed up on the beach on Wednesday during the search.

He also urged people to be kinder to Mr Higgins.

"Have a bit of empathy about what's happened," Mr Lauchlan said.


© ABC 2020

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