Skydiver search suspended

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The family of missing skydiver Tyler Nii are disappointed they will not get to take him home, but grateful for the “outstanding” efforts made to recover his body from Lake Wakatipu.

The family issued a statement this afternoon as police announced the search for Mr Nii had been suspended.

Mr Nii, 27, of California, is presumed dead, after he and his tandem-skydiving instructor plunged into Lake Wakatipu near Jacks Point while on a jump with skydive company NZONE on January 10.

The instructor was rescued within 20 minutes with only minor injuries.

In announcing the search had been suspended Otago Lakes District Area Commander Inspector Olaf Jensen said this afternoon the Police National Dive Squad completed the final phase of their sonar search yesterday, and unfortunately had not located Tyler.

Insp Jensen said the search had been difficult, given weather conditions on the lake and the depth of  the lake where he went missing.

The search area was a 300m diameter radius from where the other skydiver was rescued and police had been operating at a depth of 340m – by comparison, the Sky Tower is 328m tall.

“Suspending the search is not the outcome we wanted.

“We were obviously wanting to return Tyler to his family and it’s very disappointing that this couldn’t be done.

“We have advised the Nii family of this, and they will be returning to the United States tomorrow.

“While they are naturally disappointed that they do not have Tyler to take back with them, they are appreciative of the efforts undertaken by police to recover his body,” Insp Jensen said.

Police would be providing details of the search efforts to the coroner to assist in the ongoing coronial process.

In a statement, issued along with the police announcement, the family of Mr Nii said they were grateful for the support they had received.

“We want to thank Kate and Philip Rive, of Cecil Peak Station, who were extremely helpful in the initial search on the lake for Tyler, and for all the equipment and support they’ve given the ongoing search.

“Their efforts have been outstanding, as have those of the Police.

“We also want to thank the businesses of Queenstown that have supported us with food, vouchers, and other activities while we’ve been staying in town.

“We can’t get over the support that’s been shown across New Zealand and in the Queenstown community.”