Australian jockey Chris Caserta is presumed dead after being caught in a rip current during a late-night swim, Queensland Police said on Thursday.
Shortly after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, 26-year-old Caserta and a female companion entered the water at Surfers Paradise Beach in Queensland, police said.
The woman, who has not been identified by police, was able to reach the shore, but a land, sea and air search for Caserta remains ongoing.
“Unfortunately, I had the heartbreaking job of telling Chris’ parents that this is not a search and rescue for Chris. We’re searching for Chris’ body as the time frame for survival has passed,” Jay Notaro, senior sergeant of Queensland Police, told reporters.
“It is an absolute tragedy at any time, but particularly just before Christmas. On behalf of the Queensland Police service, I’d like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues in the racing industry.
“We’ll continue to search and our goal is to return Chris to his family.”
Notaro added that bystanders alerted authorities and helped to calm the woman after she had recovered from the water.
“They entered the water at a similar time and were quite close when they both got into trouble,” he said.
Rip currents — fast-moving water that usually flows away from the beach — are common at Surfers Paradise. The beach is patrolled between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to Notaro, as he warned people not to enter the water outside those times given the potential dangers.
On Thursday, Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said: “Our thoughts are with Chris and his family at this time.”
Racing Queensland is working with the Gold Coast Turf Club (GCTC) to provide welfare and support to Caserta’s family, friends and other members of the racing industry.
“First and foremost, our heart goes out to Chris’ family and the entire racing community as the search continues,” said GCTC CEO Steve Lines.
Caserta, who moved from Victoria to Queensland last year, recorded more than 150 wins over the course of his career, according to Racing.com.