Pacific Island Trip Turns Deadly for South Dakota Lawmaker

State Rep. Craig Tieszen, brother-in-law drowned in kayaking accident
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 24, 2017 8:41 AM CST
SD Lawmaker Drowns While in Cook Islands for Wedding
In this 2013 file photo, Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, talks to the South Dakota House Transportation Committee about teen driving safety in Pierre, SD.   (AP Photo/Chet Brokaw, File)

A South Dakota state representative and his brother-in-law drowned in an apparent kayaking accident in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, where they were attending a wedding for the lawmaker's daughter, officials said Thursday. State Rep. Craig Tieszen, 68, a Republican from Rapid City, and his brother-in-law, Brent Moline, 61, died Wednesday, reports the AP. The Cook Islands Police Service wrote in a Facebook post that officials had been at the scene of a "double tragedy at sea," saying two men had taken their kayaks over a reef and capsized. The post doesn't name Tieszen or Moline, but describes the two victims as American citizens aged 68 and 61. New Zealand media indicated Tieszen died trying to save Moline.

State Sen. Betty Olsen posted something similar on Facebook, saying her "heart was heavy" after she received a call informing her "Tieszen had died while trying to save his brother-in-law from drowning at Craig's daughter's wedding." Tieszen spent 32 years in law enforcement before retiring as police chief of Rapid City in western South Dakota in 2007, reports the Rapid City Journal. He served in the state Senate from 2009 through 2016 and was in his first term representing District 34 in the House. "Craig Tieszen spent his life serving the public. He was a thoughtful and conscientious legislator, and a leader on criminal justice issues," said Gov. Dennis Daugaard in a statement. The governor said he will order flags to fly at half-staff statewide to honor Tieszen on the day of his funeral, which hasn't yet been scheduled.

(More drowning stories.)

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