RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA, 30 NOVEMBER 2017 (RAPID CITY JOURNAL) — State Rep. Craig Tieszen and his brother-in-law encountered high tides and rough seas before they were killed in a kayaking accident off the Rarotonga, in Cook Islands last week, according to new information released by authorities Monday.
Tieszen and Brent Moline were paddling kayaks at the reef off Muri beach during the late morning on Nov. 22 when “both got into difficulty towards the ocean side of the reef,” Cook Islands Police said in a Facebook message to the Journal.
This occurred at a time of day when the tide was high and the ocean was described as “quite rough,” police said. “By contrast, the lagoon itself was very calm, flat.”
A hotel receptionist called police just before 11 a.m. saying their guests were kayaking over the reef and had capsized. A tour boat was sent to the lagoon side of the reef within 15 to 20 minutes, with a police officer and three volunteers conducting a search.
Tieszen, 68, was found and brought to shore where resuscitation attempts continued for several minutes until he was taken to a local hospital. “A number of people worked solidly to try and revive him on the beach,” Cook Islands Police said. “He was not responsive.”
Moline, 61, was found by a police search-and-rescue zodiac boat working from the ocean side of the reef and taken to a nearby Harbor. Both men were pronounced dead shortly before 1 p.m.
“Kayaking over the reef is considered dangerous,” police said. “That particular area of the reef is a concentrated source of wave energy (breakers) and tidal activity for the Muri lagoon.”
The new information was released late Monday afternoon following an investigation and inquest into the accident on Nov. 23.
Rarotonga is the largest and most populous of the Cook Islands, an archipelago of 15 islands in the central South Pacific.
A Radio New Zealand report quoted Brent Fisher, president of Cook Islands Water Safety, who said the channel linking Muri Lagoon to the ocean is posted for forceful currents.
“We’ve put signs inside the lagoon, in the water, telling people not to swim or advising them not to take in any water sports in those areas because of that hazard because of the strong currents. So if people keep away from those areas, it’s normally no problem,” Fisher told RNZ.
Tieszen reportedly tried to rescue Moline after his kayak capsized.
The Cook Islands News reported the deaths of a German couple under similar circumstances off the south coast of Rarotonga in November 2015.
A 50-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman drowned after one fell out of a kayak and the other dove in to help, but both were overcome by high tides and heavy ocean swells near the reef in the Papua passage, the report said… PACNEWS [/restrict]