Gold Coast jockey Chris Caserta is feared drowned after a late-night swim with a friend at a local beach.
- Chris Caserta, 26, disappeared during a swim about 10pm with a 25-year-old woman
- Police were able to identify the pair through CCTV footage showing them entering the water
- The racing community is hoping for the best but “fearing the worst”
Emergency services and volunteers are continuing to search for Mr Caserta, 26, after he disappeared during a swim at Surfers Paradise about 10pm.
According to Queensland Police, Mr Caserta had been swimming with a 25-year-old woman at the Esplanade when onlookers noticed them struggling in the water.
Passers-by were able to help the young woman from the water, but not Mr Caserta, who has not been seen since.
According to a QPS spokesperson he was last seen wearing black shorts.
The woman was taken to hospital in a stable condition.
It is understood police were able to identify the pair through CCTV, with footage showing them entering the water.
Land, air, and sea search efforts continued until about 1:30am and recommenced at first light this morning.
Mr Caserta is originally from Victoria.
Jockey went into deep water
Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Nathan Fife said Mr Caserta had swam out behind waves, while the woman he was with swam in a more shallow area.
Onlookers came to their aid after the woman began screaming for help, but Mr Caserta wasn’t seen again.
Moved from Victoria to boost career
South Australian racing Coach Dean Pettit said the racing community was hoping for the best but “fearing the worst”.
The former jockey and racing presenter said Mr Caserta “gives his all” whenever he is racing and has friends across the country and the world.
Mr Pettit said he had had moved to the Gold Coast from Victoria about 18 months ago to reinvigorate his career in racing.
Mr Caserta previously raced in South Australia.
“He moved to Queensland for a fresh opportunity and I understand in the past six weeks he was starting to make a good impact,” he said.
Mr Pettit says Mr Caserta is a family-oriented man with a “big smile”.
“What’s happened is affecting a lot of people and we’re just really hoping for the best, but the racing community knows this doesn’t look good,” he said.
Friend spoke with mate before late-night dip
Close friend Jaden Lloyd described the jockey as an “absolute legend”.
“He wouldn’t harm anyone and it’s just absolutely tragic. He’s one of the nice guys,” he said.
“I spoke to him about 30 minutes before he went out for a swim and he seemed fine at that stage.
“I know he was with a girl… she’s been rescued… but then, he’s obviously gone missing.”
Mr Lloyd said the woman knew Mr Caserta through the Gold Coast Turf Club.
He said the pair were friends and had gone to dinner before heading out for a swim.
Mr Lloyd and another friend have been waiting on the shore this morning as the search and rescue operation for Mr Caserta continues.
“We’re both shattered and we’re just praying for a miracle and hoping for a bit of good news,” he said.