THE step-daughters of missing kayaker Stephen Angel have issued a heart-felt plea for information as bad weather conditions forced an air and marine search to be suspended overnight.
Addressing the media today, step-daughters Katie and Anna Marelic said the 59-year-old was extremely fit and healthy, and often kayaked around Shoalwater and Point Peron.
Emergency services began a search for Mr Angel at first light, but were forced to pull back around 3pm.
Mr Angel vanished while kayaking in waters off Perth’s south, but managed to activate his personal locator beacon at about 11am on Wednesday.
So far only his kayak, a kayak paddle and the beacon have been found.
“He was strong, had no health issues,” Anna said.
“The weather was really nice yesterday for kayaking, and he normally goes out for a couple of hours,” she added.
“I received a call from mum and she was very distressed. Soon as I heard her voice I knew something was wrong,” said Katie.
“I left work straight away and we went to his car and searched his car and we were just hunting around. The police had been notified.”
An air search using heat sensing FLIR camera equipment was launched, along with volunteer marine rescue crews from Rockingham, Cockburn and Fremantle, police divers and local police officers.
The Police Air Wing helicopter joined the search along with the RAC Rescue helicopter and the AMSA Challenger Rescue Jet.
Fremantle Water Police Acting OIC Sergeant Paul Crawshaw said they still had hope of finding Mr Angel.
“Emergency services rescue vessels from Rockingham and Cockburn were sent to commence the search along with three helicopters from the Australian Marine Safety Authority for an aerial search,” he said.
“A kayak and paddle were located between Point Peron and Garden Island. We believe he is still out there.”
He said a sighting of a kayaker near Bird Island before Mr Angel’s PLB activated had been confirmed.
“AMSA’s purpose-built challenger search jet with heat signature detecting technology has so far failed to locate any sign of Mr Angel.
“The PLB was located about 1.8 kilometres offshore north of where the kayak had been located.
“The area was effectively covered with good visibility, today conditions have worsened and we have some 45 knot winds and two to three metre waves.”
The search area covered about 68 nautical miles from Shoalwater Bay up to Garden Island.
Today it has been reduced down to a more focused, close quarter search with jet skis searching the inshore areas of islands in the area.
WA Police confirmed the search had been suspended due to the weather.
“Due to the bad weather conditions being experienced, the search activity has been suspended for this afternoon, pending changes in the weather,” a spokesman said.
“The current conditions on the water are not considered safe for further search activity at this time.
“The planned air search activities were however completed.
“It is expected the search will recommence tomorrow morning, with search vessel deployment and an air search currently being planned.”