A rock fisherman died of misadventure after he was swept off the rocks near the Kiama Blowhole, a deputy state coroner has found.
Dinh Khang Bui (who went by Michael) was 72 years old when he disappeared on the evening of May 2, 2023 while fishing.
His body has never been found.
The Coroner's Court, sitting in Wollongong on Wednesday, heard Mr Bui was married with four living children and an avid fisherman who fished along the Illawarra coast.
About 3pm on the day of his disappearance, Mr Bui left his home in Bradbury, picked up his friends, and headed down to the blowhole.
Once the group arrived, the court heard, they separated and began fishing.
One witness saw Mr Bui at a point about five metres above the swell level.
About 6.45pm - 25 minutes after high tide - a witness heard a "scream for help", and Mr Bui was seen in the water about 15 metres from the rocks.
A witness called triple-0 and police arrived a short time later.
The court heard conditions at the time were rough and there was minimal visibility due to the darkness of the night.
An extensive search for Mr Bui was launched, involving multiple emergency services, but he was not found.
Sergeant Chris Manning told the court that factors including the cold water and the conditions at the time, Mr Bui's age and health, and his lack of any life-preserving device led police to believe he had drowned.
The officer in charge, Leading Senior Constable Nathan Curry, confirmed that he believed Mr Bui had fallen into the ocean and been swept out to sea, where he most likely drowned.
He said the family had accepted the inevitability of what had happened.
Deputy State Coroner Roger Clisdell said he was able to make a finding on the balance of probabilities, even though no body had been recovered, that there was "little or no doubt" that Mr Bui died from drowning.
Mr Clisdell said there was sufficient evidence to conclude Mr Bui was unable to make it back to shore.
There was no evidence to suggest Mr Bui was suicidal, he said, nor that he wanted to leave his family.
Mr Clisdell said this led to the "inescapable conclusion" that he had died of misadventure.
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