Police say search for missing fishermen has reached the ‘recovery phase’

Queensland Police have tragically revealed that the search for six men, missing at sea after their trawler capsized off the central Queensland coast, has now transitioned into the ‘recovery phase’.

Ben Leahy, 45, Adam Hoffman, 30, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Zach Feeney, 28, and Gold Coast man Chris Sammut, 34, were on a commercial fishing boat when it overturned in Bustard Bay near Middle Island on Monday night.

The sole known survivor, Ruben McDornan, managed to cling on to the vessel’s hull for hours before he was rescued when a couple on a passing boat heard his screams for help.


A major air and water search has been ongoing for the crew ever since, however to no avail.

Police revealed expert advice is that the window of survivability has now passed, and the search and rescue mission has now transitioned into the recovery phase.

As weather conditions have now improved, officers from the Dive Squad have arrived in Gladstone and will be deployed as part of the search today.

Ruben McDornan, the man who was rescued earlier this week, is also assisting police with search, which will again involve 12 water vessels, one helicopter and a number of vehicles.

Police have said that debris has begun to wash up on beaches from Gladstone and that over the next week, may continue to wash up in the area and as far north as Yeppoon.

They have urged anyone walking on the beach who locates debris or personal items that may belong to the missing crew, to take a photo of it, capture GPS coordinates with their smart phone and, if possible, take the item home and secure it.

Once the item is secure, they are asked to contact Policelink on 131 444 to arrange the property to be collected by police.