Details Given on SD Lawmaker's Death in South Pacific
Rep. Craig Tieszen reportedly became caught in a current
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2017 11:54 AM CST
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In this Feb. 26, 2013, file photo, then-state Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, talks to the South Dakota House Transportation Committee.   (AP Photo/Chet Brokaw, File)

(Newser) – More details have been released surrounding a South Dakota state representative's death in a kayaking accident off the South Pacific island of Rarotonga. Rep. Craig Tieszen, 68, and his brother-in-law, 61-year-old Brent Moline, borrowed hotel kayaks last Wednesday and paddled out around 9am into what is described as having been a tranquil lagoon. But as a Facebook post from Cook Islands Police explains, they became "caught in the current and they were dragged to where the waves were breaking." Police say they were accompanied by a younger male who tried to rescue them and then returned to the hotel to get help. Police were alerted just before 11am. One man "was retrieved from on the reef," the other, "from over the reef."

A Cook Islands Police rep tells the Argus Leader that no life jackets were recovered, but that lagoon kayakers often don't use them because the water is so calm. He said rough waves stripped the men of their clothing. Both were pronounced dead just before 1pm. The Rapid City Journal cites an interview with the president of Cook Islands Water Safety, who said the channel that links the Muri Lagoon to the ocean features signs warning of strong currents. The Black Hills Pioneer reports the men were in the Cook Islands to attend Tieszen's daughter's wedding, which was scheduled for that day. The Journal adds that something similar reportedly happened two years ago, when a 50-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman died after one fell in and the other attempted a rescue.

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