Heartbroken family still searching for lost teen

Heartbroken family still searching for lost teen

Cory Edgecombe Lilley was not a confident swimmer. Photo / Supplied
Cory Edgecombe Lilley was not a confident swimmer. 
Shannon Edgecombe was so terrified of water after a near-drowning experience as a teenager that she never took her children to the beach.

Now, 19 years after she nearly drowned, her teenage son is missing after being swept away while swimming at Raglan.

Cory Edgecombe Lilley was not a confident swimmer but had gone to the beach with a group of friends to escape the
hot muggy weather in Hamilton on Thursday afternoon.

The 17-year-old and his friends had spent about 40 minutes in the water before deciding to head back to the shore - but quickly became stuck in a rip. His friend Oscar Luttrell said the group just swam "hard out".

They managed to get to the point where they could feel the sand on their toes but kept being dragged back out after failing to get any firm grip on the ground. The 17-year-old said a man on a boogie board came to help.

The last he saw Cory he was in water up to his knees, battling the last few metres to shore.

Peter Henry, who was also in the group, said they were all exhausted and the 16-year-old could only assume his friend couldn't match the strength of the vicious rip.

Ms Edgecombe told the Weekend Herald she nearly drowned at the same age as Cory when she went out swimming with a group of five friends at Whangamata - the same number as Cory had gone out with.

She was at work when she was told the news. She said she couldn't believe it and has had very little sleep since.

Sister Phoenix, 15, said it would be weird for her and her younger sister, Jordon, 7, to not have their older brother around anymore.

"It's crazy to think that. He's just always been there, it's going to be such a weird thing to get used to."

The thought of having lost Cory was still a bit surreal for Ms Edgecombe - she was so used to him popping round and eating all her bread, making jam and peanut butter sandwiches, swinging on the backyard swing and playing his Playstation.

"I just want them to find him and bring him home."

Although she hadn't been back to any beach since her near-drowning, she said she would head out to Raglan at some stage to visit the place her son was last seen.

Cory's grandfather, Brian Edgecombe, his wife, children and grandchildren spent most of yesterday scouring the rugged Manu Bay coastline, including the large rocks, for any sign of him.

Mr Edgecombe had dived there for paua and crayfish in the area over the years and was well aware that Cory wouldn't make it out alive.

"There's no maybes about it, mate. You muck up out here, he's gone."

Waikato police search and rescue Sergeant Phil Bell said search teams had looked as far north as Gibson Beach and as far south as Te Toto Gorge the night he went missing.

He expected police will be able to find and recover Cory's body.

Mr Bell said police planned to resume the search at 6am when it was low tide.