The National Sea Rescue Institute has abandoned its search for Hilton Grove, a spearfisherman from Port Elizabeth who went missing after a free dive in St Lucia at the weekend.
However, the police have not given up. Grove, 31, was on a fishing trip with three other men when he decided to go diving at 4pm on Saturday.
He was spending the weekend in Richards Bay with his wife, Lisa. All four men on the boat were qualified divers.
After three days of searching the NSRI gave up and handed over the operation to SAPS’s water division.
Gavin Fordham, a NSRI senior coxswain in the area, said emergency personnel had spent the past three days trying to recover Grove’s body.
“This has clearly not been a normal recovery. It has been a hectic few days. Shore patrols and boats scoured the area but we have not been successful in locating him. We fear he could have drowned or was attacked by a shark,” he said.
“If he had drowned it would be difficult to locate him because he was wearing a camouflage wetsuit that would make it difficult to spot the body under water.
“He was also wearing a weighted waist belt that could have dragged his body deeper into the sea.”
It is not clear whether Grove’s wife, who received counselling after the incident, is still in Richards Bay. However, Fordham said the NSRI was in contact with Grove’s sister, who is in Australia.
A police officer confirmed a missing person docket had been opened and that the SAPS’s search and rescue division was continuing the search.