4 Dec 2011

Spearfishing diver drowns

2:19 pm on 4 December 2011

A man who drowned near Wellington's Pukerua Bay on Saturday was spearfishing in an area known to have strong currents.

Police have yet to release his name, but he has been identified by friends as Eric de Vries.

Police say he was reported missing at 11.30am. They say he had been on a boat with another diver, and officers were called after he failed to surface from a dive. His body was recovered about an hour later.

The president of the free-diving body AIDA, Phil Clayton, says Mr de Vries was known to many Wellington-based free-divers who also spearfish - including top free-diver David Mullins, who found Mr de Vries' body.

Mr Clayton says it is hard to implement safety controls in spearfishing, and the spot where Mr de Vries was, Hunter's Bank, is also dangerous.

He says members he has spoken to are very upset about the accident, describing Mr de Vries as a gentle, well-liked man who did not take risks.