Family brace for the worst

Private Ross a "quiet, determined" man

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 28/09/2012
Private Michael Ross
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
LOST: Linton Military Camp's Private Michael Ross in a combined forces lower North Island military exercise in May this year.

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The family of missing soldier Private Michael Victor Ross have gathered at Lake Moawhango, Waiouru, as the search for his body continues.

Private Ross, 29, a rifleman with the 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment based at Linton near Palmerston North, went missing on Tuesday evening after he fell overboard when travelling back across the lake from a live-firing training session about 5.45pm.

He is presumed drowned.

Waiouru headquarters training commander Colonel Evan Williams said Private Ross was travelling in an inflatable boat with eight others at the time of the accident.

He was wearing a life jacket and despite the efforts of his colleagues to save him, slipped under the water.

Colonel Williams said Private Ross was a "quiet but determined" man who took his role as a soldier seriously.

He enlisted in the army in August 2009, and was posted to 2/1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment at Burnham, before moving to the Linton Military Camp in 2010, later spending six months in Timor Leste in 2011.

Colonel Williams said Private Ross, who hailed from Kaitaia, was close to his family and spent many hours driving north from Palmerston North to see them.

He did not have children, but had a girlfriend.

Waiouru Military Camp has been supporting the family.

Family have made several trips to the lake and a karakia was held for them on the lake yesterday to try to aid them in getting their son back, Colonel Williams said.

Navy divers were using sonar to map the bottom of the lake, so they could search targeted areas.

The National Police Dive Squad has also been assisting in the search, which was expected to resume today at first light.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said yesterday an inquiry had been launched to determine what went wrong and he expected to speak to Private Ross' family at some point.

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- Manawatu Standard

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