Missing Phillips family: Surf life saver says ‘no stone unturned’ in search

Rescue efforts in Marokopa left “no stone unturned” in the search for the missing Phillips family, says a Raglan surf life saver.

Police announced yesterday the search for Tom, Jayda, Maverick and Ember Phillips would be suspended, nearly two weeks after the family were last seen in Marokopa on Saturday, September 11.

For the past 12 days teams of searchers, supported by the local community, have been combing the inland and coastal areas of Marokopa and Kiritehere looking for Phillips and his three children, who are all aged under 10.

Waikato West Area Commander Inspector Will Loughrin said yesterday they were committed to bringing home the family to their loved ones, but the search had now entered a more “reactive” phase.

Raglan Surf life saving club captain David Galuszka was one of many volunteer surf life savers who gave up their time to assist in the search.

“It is sad that we haven’t been able to be successful in finding anyone but we know ourselves that we didn’t leave any stone unturned,” he said.

“We went up and down the coast and we come away from it knowing we did absolutely everything we could.”

“And unfortunately for the wider family we haven’t been able to find anyone.”

He said a total of 11 surf lifesavers from the Raglan club had participated in search efforts over three days in the first week of the search.

All were volunteers that had dropped what they were doing to aid the search efforts, he said.

“Everyone from the Raglan Surf Life Saving squad that turned out on those days came as a volunteer.

“We all have other jobs or study or other things going on … so we arrange other things for work and study and make ourselves available to help out with the search and do what we can.”

He said jobs like this could take a heavy emotional toll on volunteers.

“It’s more the emotional and spiritual toll on people in search-and-rescue situations than the physical toll afterwards,” he said.

“When we’re out there doing it we’ve got our professional lifeguard mode on, but we make sure in the times before and after we’re checking in on each other.

“We’re quite fortunate to have a good peer support network within the club and also within the region, that we can call on.”

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