An Australian man who died while rafting near Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island was NSW police officer Joshua Paroci.
He was one of six Australians on the raft, which overturned on rapids at Skippers Canyon near Queenstown on Saturday.
New Zealand police on Monday publicly identified the victim as Detective Senior Constable Paroci, 31, whose wife is also a police officer.
In a statement, NSW Police said Detective Senior Constable Paroci joined the force in 2008 and had recently worked in the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad.
“Professionally, Josh was a tireless worker; dedicated to investigating some of the most heinous crimes against children,” Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec said.
“His passion was justice for victims. Not only was he a police officer, he was completing a law degree, which he intended to use to create better outcomes for young victims.”
Detective Senior Constable Paroci lost his grip as the raft was being towed to a bank, and was swept through another rapid and could not be resuscitated on the shore, according to Totally Tourism, owners of Challenge Rafting.
“We believe everything was done by the book and standard procedure. But the outcome was certainly something we did not expect,” general manager Tim Barke told Radio NZ.
The company said the rafters followed standard rescue procedures when they were pitched into the water.
Attempts by paramedics to resuscitate him on the shore failed.
Another member of the same group was injured and was treated at a New Zealand hospital.
Overturning rafts were not unusual for the grade of the river, he added, and customers were given equipment to ensure their safety and warmth.
Another person on the raft was also injured and flown to Lakes District Hospital, while the rest of the group was helicoptered out and returned to Australia on Monday morning, the rafting companies said.
Weather conditions were good during the trip and two other rafts on the same route had not overturned.
Maritime New Zealand and the coroner are investigating the accident.