42yo man found dead in Clarence River tragedy
THE chef of a popular hotel was found dead in the Clarence River two days after he went missing in what police described as a tragic accident.
About 1.30pm on Tuesday water police discovered the body of 42-year-old Andre Richer-Pearce on the riverbank at Brushgrove.
For the past two years Mr Richer-Pearce had worked as a chef at the Brushgrove Hotel and kayaked to work from the vessel in which he lived, which was moored nearby.
He was last seen leaving his workplace on Sunday night. The "quiet, reserved type of bloke" was not due back to work until Wednesday, and the alarm that he was missing was not raised until Tuesday.
"The man hadn't been seen so concerned friends raised the alarm on Tuesday," Coffs Clarence Police Chief Inspector Jo Reid said.
"People had been out to the yacht to have a look, police had a look as well, and there was no sign of him on the yacht.
"Water police attended, and at 1.30pm his body was located on the eastern bank of the river 400m north of his vessel."
"The kayak was tethered to the yacht, so he actually got back there, but what happened after that we're not sure," Insp Reid said.
"At this stage we're trying to retrace his last movements. We don't believe it is is anything suspicious, just a tragic accident. But a report will be prepared for the coroner."
The Brushgrove Hotel closed its doors at 6pm on Tuesday night as staff dealt with the shock of the tragedy.
According to the hotel's publican Luke Many, Mr Richer-Pearce had been a no-show for a fishing trip on Monday. But the alarm that he was missing was not raised after until a nearby resident noticed another boat bumping up against Mr Richer-Pearce's boat in the river on Tuesday morning.
"The storm that puffed through this morning shifted another boat off its mooring, and it started bumping up against Andre's boat," Mr Many told The Daily Examiner on Tuesday evening.
"(The resident) came to the pub and asked our barmaid if he was working. But he had Monday and Tuesday off, so (the barmaid) tried to call him and left messages."
A friend of Mr Richer-Pearce then went onto the boat to look for him, and then the alarm was raised with police that he was missing.
For the past 18 months, Mr Richer-Pearce had been living his dream lifestyle on the yacht, kayaking to work, spending his spare time navigating the Clarence River and venturing up and down the coast on his holidays.
"He was a quiet, reserved type of bloke," Mr Many said. "He had been a chef at the Brushgrove Hotel for nearly two years. He just turned up one day, asked for work, we gave him a crack and he was very good at what he does.
"About 18 months ago he came into some money when his grandmother passed away and bought a yacht. I think it was the first boat he'd owned. On his days off he'd shoot up and down the river and do what he pleased. He took a month off work a couple of months ago and shot up near the Whitsundays.
"He kayaked to work every day, twice a day, for lunch and dinner."