2 Dec 2016

Policeman drowned helping daughter save dog

7:55 pm on 2 December 2016

A senior police officer drowned saving his daughter from a "treacherous" river, police say.

Sergeant Mike Toon died in the Manawatu River after his daughter went in to rescue a dog. He followed her in.

Sergeant Mike Toon

Sergeant Mike Toon Photo: Police

The Police National Dive Squad recovered Mr Toon's body about 9.30am, after a search started about 6pm yesterday.

Mr Toon's daughter and the dog survived.

Toon, who was a police prosecutor, was off-duty. He got into difficulty in the "treacherous" river conditions, police said.

Central District Commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger said Mr Toon's death was a heavy blow for the police community.

Looking up stream of the wide and still Manawatū river.

His body was found during a search in the Manawatu River (file photo). Photo: 123rf

"He was a loving family man, an infectious personality and a man who would give you his shirt off his back. He always had time to help others. He acted with courage and dedication which are characteristic of both a police officer and a father."

He was in the police for 28 years.

"We and the wider police family will come together to provide the support needed to his family and colleagues," said Ms Schwalger.

She said Mr Toon acted with courage to help a family member and that had ended in tragedy.

"This is a sad day for all police staff and we share the grief of Mike's family."

The daughter and dog were recovering well, she said.

Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council chief executive Michael McCartney said the river was unusually strong and high last night.

"The river at the time was flowing at about four times the normal flow - about 1m a second - and that's pretty quick, it will knock you off your feet pretty quickly. It wasn't in a condition that you would normally go swimming in."