The West

Hope fades for teen missing off Mindarie
Jenon Biwot. Picture: Supplied

UPDATE 11.50am: There were heart-breaking scenes this morning as the body of a missing teenager was pulled from the water just a few hundred metres from where he disappeared.

Jenon George Biwot, 13, was swimming with friends at Claytons beach in Mindarie when a rip pulled him under about 3:30pm yesterday.

The teenager was swimming with his cousin Moses, aged 13. He was caught in a rip and Moses lost sight of him.

Water Police Sgt Peter Trivett said the boy was reported missing about 4.45pm and the alarm was raised when beachgoers noticed his distressed friend.

The beach is not patrolled by surf lifesavers.

Family members broke down this morning as they watched divers recover their son's body just 100 metres offshore about 11.40am, ending today's six-hour search that began at first light.

The family of the teenager had gathered on the beach at Mindarie as the search continued this morning.

Jet skiers joined helicopters and marine rescue boats this morning in the search for the boy at first light today.

About 15 relatives, escorted by police, formed a sad procession back to the command point and were taken away in waiting vehicles.

His father Materno Biwot earlier told The West Australian Jenon was a quiet, studious boy who loved soccer and talking with his friends.

Mr Biwot said it was the first time he had heard of his son swimming.

"When Jenon was swimming there all of a sudden they heard him crying for help," Mr Biwot said.

"When they rushed there to help him, the cousin grabbed the hand and the other fellow, the second friend, grabbed the friend. The water became so strong...the hand of Jenon slipped off their hands.

"He wasn't a good swimmer. He didn't have skills for swimming because we came from a place where the land is landlocked.

"Police came to my house to tell me little Jenon had gone missing. I could not believe it. We are devastated; it's heartbreaking.”

Mr Biwot said Claytons beach was not a safe place for his son to swim and he would have stopped him or accompanied him if he knew his plans.

"One time I came here, I got scared in the water, the way the water moves here," he said

"If he told me that he was coming here, I would have stopped him from that immediately."

An air, land and sea search until last light yesterday failed to find any sign of the boy. Police updated the boy's parents on the search as the light faded.

Several children were on the beach yesterday afternoon when Jenon disappeared.

Mady Lewis, 14, described how she saw the young boy swept under water within arms reach and even made eye contact with him at one point.

"It was upsetting seeing him staring into your eyes, it hurt, knowing he had gone within those few minutes," the Clarkson High School student said.

"Being able to touch his finger tips and not being able to grab him, being pushed back and him being pushed forwards, was just heartbreaking.

"I came back up for air, he reached his hand back out, then he was gone."

Mr Biwot said he was originally from South Sudan where he was a schoolteacher but he was persecuted and fled to Uganda.

The family only arrived in Australia three years ago after 18 years in a Ugandan refugee camp, where Jenon was born.

Jenon is survived by five siblings and his mother and father.

The Jenon's father has provided bank details for anyone who wants to help the family, in lieu in flowers:

Mr Mo Biwot

NAB Classic Banking account

BSB: 086-412

Account: 155034280

Rescuers at Mindarie this morning. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian
SES volunteers at Claytons beach . Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian
The West Australian

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