Teenager drowns after work Christmas party on a houseboat

Bailey Maher, 18, who drowned during his work Christmas Party. Photo: Facebook “Rest easy up there big fella:” Friends remembered Bailey Maher, 18, in messages on Facebook, after he drowned in the Hawkesbury River. Photo: Facebook

Friends have paid tribute to an 18-year-old man who drowned in the Hawkesbury River during a work Christmas party on Friday night.

Bailey Maher, a roof tiler from Camden, was on a houseboat with his family and colleagues when he went swimming just before 8.30pm.

His family called triple-zero when he failed to return, and police helicopters, divers, state emergency services and NSW Marine Rescue combed the area on Friday night and Saturday morning.

But more than 14 hours after he went missing, his body was found.

As the news of his death broke on Saturday afternoon the heartbroken friends of Mr Maher, a former Camden High School Student, took to social media to pay tribute to the teen.

School friend Greg Bentham wrote “there is nothing that can explain the pain it feels to lose a best friend”.

“You were the closest thing I had to having a brother and will be dearly missed by all who loved you,” he said on Facebook.

Another friend, Connor Bates, said on Facebook “rest in peace Bailey Maher you will always be my best mate and I will never forget the memories we’ve shared together, rest easy up there big fella”.

Just after midday on Saturday the NSW search and rescue helicopter, Westpac Life Saver, tweeted that it was returning to base.

Hawkesbury Police acting inspector Andrew Martignago said that Mr Maher’s family were devastated.

“One man dived in to the water and then another person saw that he was having difficulties in the water,” Hawkesbury Police acting Inspector Andrew Martignago said.

“Other witnesses dived in to assist, but they lost sight of him.”

At about midday on Saturday the Westpac Live Save helicopter Tweeted that the body of Mr Maher had been found.

“Sadly, the body of the missing 18-year-old male has been located. RIP,” the rescue service wrote.   UPDATE: Lifesaver 21 returning to base. Sadly, the body of the missing 18 year old male has been located. RIP— Westpac Life Saver (@Lifesaverhelo) December 12, 2015

At the time of the man’s disappearance a southerly change with winds of up to 50 km/h was making its way down the coast.

NSW Police are preparing a report for the coroner. 

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