5 Jun 2024

Man who went overboard from ferry was under police scrutiny

12:38 pm on 5 June 2024

By Sam Sherwood of Stuff

Search and Rescue are are working their way along Wellingtons east coast

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The death of a man who went overboard from a Wellington ferry has been referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The man was the only passenger on the early morning East by West ferry from Wellington to Days Bay on 24 May.

A large-scale search, involving up to 14 vessels and a rescue helicopter at its peak, was carried out after he went overboard. His body was found several days later.

Stuff understands the man was the subject of police scrutiny around the time of his death.

Stuff approached the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) last week, to see if they had been notified of the man's death. A spokesperson said at that stage police had not contacted them.

However, on Tuesday, a spokesperson said the man's death had been referred to them, but was "not yet categorised".

The IPCA would not be releasing any details about the information police had given them, the spokesperson said.

Search and Rescue are are working their way along Wellingtons east coast

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

A police spokesperson told Stuff they were unable to make any further comment as the matter had been referred to the coroner.

East by West Ferries general manager Mat Jonsson earlier released a statement acknowledging the "tragic" incident.

"[We] will continue to be with the passenger and his family and friends, as they come to terms with their loss," he said.

Jonsson also paid tribute to the "professionalism" of the crew, who spent hours participating in an active search "after the shock of finding a passenger missing".

He thanked all commercial operators and private vessels who helped with the search.

"This quickly became an 'all hands; response, and we thank our counterparts for stepping forward to assist."

East By West would co-operate with police's investigation, as well as conducting their own review into the incident, he said.

- This story was first published by Stuff.

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