Policeman's body found in Manawatu River identified

  • 02/12/2016
  • By Alex Baird and Emma Hurley

Off-duty police prosecutor Mike Toon died while attempting to help his daughter, who'd entered the Manawatu River river to rescue the family dog.

Police formed a guard of honour as the body of their heroic colleague was carried from the river at 9:30am on Friday.

Sergeant Toon's daughter was rescued by emergency services on Thursday, and police say both the woman and dog are recovering well.

The river was at a high level due to recent rains, and had a fast flowing current, leading to treacherous conditions.

Sergeant Toon was "a man who would give you the shirt off his back", Superintendent Sue Schwalger, Central District Commander says. 

Ms Schwalger says he "acted with the courage and dedication which are characteristic of both a police officer and a father".

He had served in the police force for 28 years.

"This is a sad day for all police staff and we share the grief of Mike's family", she says.

The flag is at half-mast at Palmerston North central Police Station (Newshub)

Tributes continue to flow from the Palmerston North community as they mourn the loss of Sergeant Toon.

Mayor of Palmerston North Grant Smith says "when tragedy strikes it doesn't pick or choose who it's going to take" and he's "very saddened on behalf of Palmerston North city" and Sergeant Toon's family.  He was "one of life's good guys" and was taken too early.

District Court Judge Lance Rowe, who spent years in the court room with Sergeant Toon, has acknowledged his passing.

"He was a good prosecutor and a fair prosecutor. More than that, he was a decent man, a humane man."

"He was very well respected and regarded very highly by the Court. He will be missed."

Police formed a guard of honour as the body was carried from the river (Newshub)

Ms Schwalger says police will band together to support Sergeant Toon's family and colleagues as they grieve, and expressed her gratitude to emergency services.

"I would like to thank all the emergency and response services who have been part of the search, particularly for their support to Mike's family at this difficult time."

A 'Rest In Peace' tribute to Sergeant Toon at the scene at Manawatu River (Newshub)


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