A swimmer missing at Mary Ellis Beach, near Port Lincoln in South Australia, has been described by close friends as a “hero” after he saved several children who became caught in a rip before he was swept out to sea.
Dan Cojocea, 43, was swimming with a group of six children on Friday when they were caught up and unable to get back to shore.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Man described as hero after performing selfless act that cost his life.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
Six of the children were rescued from the water and four taken to hospital.
Cojocea, a father-of-four, was caught in large waves near the shore and disappeared.
Police and the SA State Emergency Service began an aerial, ground and ocean search at Sleaford, 26km southwest of Port Lincoln, on Friday afternoon, but could not find him.
Cojocea’s close friend Riaan Grobler said the pair were more like brothers than friends, and described his last heroic act before he went missing.
“Somehow Dan got the kids out, and he … just kept encouraging them to keep swimming,” he told 7NEWS.
“He’s my hero, he saved my daughter … he saved his two kids, it was a very selfless act.”
A swimmer is missing at Mary Ellis Beach, near Port Lincoln. Credit: SuppliedCojocea was swimming with a group of children at Mary Ellis Beach, near Port Lincoln, when they became caught in a rip. Credit: Supplied
The search resumed over the weekend, with rescuers using information about tidal flow to guide them.
Cojocea’s family said he was camping at Mary Ellis Beach with his wife, their four children and another family.
They said the area in the Eyre Peninsula was one of their favourite holiday spots.