UPDATE, 11.45AM: CRIES for help from the Yamba breakwall were the first indication something had gone wrong last night, say witnesses.
Yamba local Sophia Morgan and friends were enjoying the sunset at Turners Beach when the tragedy unfolded.
"We actually heard someone scream for help, but we don't know if it wasn't someone in the water or the person who reported it to police," she said.
"A woman came over to one of the cars, and then to us, and said 'we think someone's fallen into the water, have you seen them'."
Soon after, she said, three police paddy wagons came flying down to the rocks at the breakwater with flashlights.
They were followed by a host of other emergency responders, including ambulance paramedics, volunteer firefighters and surf life savers.
Despite their best efforts, the man could not be saved.
EARLIER: A LOCAL man has drowned after falling into the water off the Yamba breakwall overnight.
According to police, the 45-year-old Yamba resident went fishing on his own at about 5pm yesterday, and is believed to have fallen off the breakwall about 7.45pm.
Coffs/Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said two people nearby heard what they believed to be calls for help and contacted emergency services, who arrived soon after.
He said police officers retrieved the man from the water and commenced CPR on the breakwall until ambulance paramedics arrived.
Tragically, the man could not be revived.
He was not wearing a life jacket at the time.
"The man's next of kin have been advised, and from our perspective this a timely reminder of the dangers of rock fishing and fishing generally around surf," Det Insp Jameson said.
"Life vests are known to save lives, and are essential as a safety precaution for people fishing off rock shelves or in rock areas facing the ocean."
"Our thoughts, of course, go to the deceased man's family and friends after this tragic accident."
Det Insp Jameson said investigations were still ongoing, and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.
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