An investigation is under way into the incident that saw Private Michael Ross drown in Waiouru’s Lake Moawhango last week.
Private Ross’ body was found yesterday by navy divers following a week-long search hampered by changing weather and the depth of the lake. It was taken to Palmerston North for an autopsy.
The Linton soldier had been undergoing small-boat training on the lake last Tuesday when he fell overboard from an inflatable vessel.
Police Ruapehu Area Commander Inspector Steve Mastrovich said sonar equipment helped pinpoint Private Ross’ body which was found in water about 40 metres deep about 2.30pm yesterday.
“Changeable weather conditions, coupled with the size and depth of the search area has made this a very challenging operation for the divers,’’ Mr Mastrovich said.
“Specialist sonar equipment was needed along with navy support to help identify areas of search interest and dive to the depths required.
Police and New Zealand Defence Force personnel have worked tirelessly on this search and recovery mission.’’
Police would continue their investigation on behalf of the coroner into the circumstances of how Private Ross was lost overboard.
Commander of training Colonel Evan Williams said he was proud of the way the search had been undertaken.
“At times more than 100 personnel from NZ Police, NZ Army and the Royal New Zealand Navy have been helping with the search,” Colonel Williams said.
“The lake is a difficult environment to search because of its depth, and sediment and growth in the bottom layer.
“Whether they have been assisting with a shoreline search, operating sonar equipment, or diving in the lake, everyone involved has shown immense professionalism and commitment to the search.’’
Mr Mastrovich said it had been a long and difficult week for the soldier’s family, friends and those involved in the search.
“Although we would have wished for a happier outcome, we are just pleased that in recovering the body we are able to give some comfort to those who are grieving.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News
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