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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Divers called in to search for missing Carlisle man

Underwater search teams were joining the hunt today for a missing fisherman whose disappearance sparked a major search.

Robert Heaton, 41, was last seen on Friday and the discovery of his fishing rod and baseball cap near the River Eden in Carlisle has led to a huge operation involving a helicopter, police and lifeboats.

The father-of-two left his home in Belah Road, Belah, Carlisle, at 12.45pm with his fishing road.

Police say Mr Heaton has not been seen or heard from since.

He was reported missing on Saturday at 4.20pm when a friend raised the alarm after finding the rod and cap opposite the junction of Eden Street on Etterby Scaur, which is close to the River Eden.

The search began where his belongings were found and was widened out for more than two miles towards the coast.

It involved an RAF helicopter, police and police dogs, the Coastguard and lifeboats from Silloth, Annan, Maryport and a boat from the Nith Inshore Rescue team.

The operation drew the attention of people walking, running or playing sport in places such as Bitts Park and The Sheepmount yesterday.

The aircraft could be clearly seen hovering over the river while crews checked from the air.

Police with dogs walked the river bank apparently looking for traces and clues that could lead them to the missing man.

Coastguard rescue searchers were also seen checking through undergrowth along the edge of the Eden as they worked up until nightfall.

Inspector Adrian Sowerby is leading the investigation.

He told the News & Star that the longer the search went on the greater the concern was for Mr Heaton’s wellbeing.

“We are happy that if he was on the surface or the riverbank we would have located him so the next course of action will be underwater,” he said.

“The search will go on until we have exhausted all avenues.”

Mr Heaton currently lives with his parents and Insp Sowerby said his relatives were greatly concerned.

They were being comforted and were in regular contact with police.

Insp Sowerby added: “It is in Mr Heaton’s character to spend time fishing but out of character to be missing for this long.

“We would urge anybody that knows him or has seen him to contact us.”

Mr Heaton is of stocky build, 5ft 9in tall and has short, dark-brown hair. He has tattoos on the inside of both lower arms and was last seen wearing a grey hoody, black and navy tracksuit bottoms with stripes and brown working boots.

Anyone with information should call Cumbria police on 101.

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