News from NZ Police
Police and Navy divers this afternoon recovered a body believed to be that of soldier Private Michael Ross who has been missing in Lake Moawhango, near Waiouru, since last Tuesday night.
Inspector Steve Mastrovich, Ruapehu Area Commander, said sonar equipment helped pinpoint the body which was found in about 40 metres of water about 2.30pm today. Family members have been notified of the find.
Divers and support craft from the Auckland Police Maritime Unit brought the body to the surface and ashore a short time later. The body has now been taken to Waiouru Military Camp and will then go to Palmerston North for a post-mortem.
Inspector Mastrovich said police believe the body is that of Private Ross but this needs to be formally confirmed as part of the coronial process.
“This has been a very long and difficult week – for the family and friends of Private Ross and also for the many people who have assisted in the search,” Inspector Mastrovich said. “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.
“Changeable weather conditions, coupled with the size and depth of the search area has made this a very challenging operation for the divers.
“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.
“There has also been phenomenal support from Coastguard and other members of the community who have pitched in to help in a range of ways.”
Police will continue their investigation on behalf of the coroner into the circumstances of how the soldier was lost overboard from an inflatable boat while on a training exercise.
Earlier news from NZ Police
Snow flurries overhead and choppy water are making search conditions more difficult today for divers trying to find the body of a soldier missing in Lake Moawhango, Waiouru.
It’s been a week today since Private Michael Ross fell overboard from an inflatable boat during an Army training exercise on the lake.
Inspector Steve Mastrovich, Ruapehu Police Area Commander, said members of the Royal New Zealand Navy operational dive team and the Police National Dive Squad are continuing to use sonar equipment in the search. They are supported by crew and a RHIB from the Auckland Police Maritime Unit and from the New Zealand Defence Force.
“The search area of interest has now been reduced to a 150m x 100m zone but at depths of over 40m it is still a very hard and complex task for the divers as they try to identify possible targets,” Inspector Mastrovich said.
“Weather conditions aren’t the best today but the search for Private Ross is still going ahead with no thought of scaling it back at this stage.
“It’s an anxious time for the family and friends of Private Ross as the divers do everything possible to find him and return him to his loved ones.”