Fa­ther of four dies in spe­cial ops drill

Taranaki Daily News - - News - PHILLIPA YALDEN

A mem­ber of the De­fence Force Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Force died dur­ing a coun­tert­er­ror­ism train­ing ex­er­cise in the wa­ters off the tip of the Coro­man­del Penin­sula.

It is un­der­stood the spe­cial ops sol­dier Sergeant Wayne Tay­lor, a fa­ther of four, fell about 5 me­tres and broke his neck dur­ing the op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing a con­tainer ship near Chan­nel Is­land in the Hau­raki Gulf early on Fri­day.

A wit­ness de­scribed see­ing three mil­i­tary-grade in­flat­able boats full of black-clad mil­i­tary per­son­nel car­ry­ing as­sault ri­fles land on the shores of Port Jack­son, at the tip of the penin­sula, as dawn broke. ‘‘We got wo­ken up when three in­flat­able RIBs came on­shore, they came hurtling in,’’ the man, who did not wish to be named, said.

‘‘We thought at first it was an ex­er­cise as they were work­ing on some­one on the shore – they were let­ting off flares and smoke and ev­ery­thing. It was quite scary as they were all dressed in black Ac­cord­ing to the NZDF 2016 De­fence Ca­pa­bil­ity Plan, Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Forces use op­er­a­tional tech­niques and modes of em­ploy­ment not stan­dard to con­ven­tional forces.

Their de­ploy­ment lead times are short and their equip­ment and train­ing must al­ways be cut­ting edge, the re­port states.

‘‘Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Forces re­spond to ter­ror­ism events in New Zealand, if the New Zealand Po­lice re­quire ad­di­tional sup­port, and are de­ploy­able glob­ally as an in­de­pen­dent con­tri­bu­tion or as part of a Joint Task Force. ‘‘Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Forces are trained and equipped for ex­plo­sive ord­nance dis­posal.’’ The Spe­cial Air Ser­vice has a mar­itime counter-ter­ror­ism and mar­itime in­fil­tra­tion role. The re­port states that sig­nif­i­cant spend­ing is pro­vi­sioned to en­sure spe­cial ops forces re­main world class.

and car­ry­ing as­sault ri­fles.’’ About 20 per­son­nel wear­ing black mil­i­tary is­sue gear jumped out, bring­ing the in­jured of­fi­cer ashore.

They be­gan ro­tat­ing CPR on the man on the beach.

‘‘There was a whole stack of them.

‘‘They would do a cou­ple of min­utes of chest com­pres­sions then the next lot would take over.

‘‘They just kept go­ing and go­ing and go­ing.

‘‘The next thing the he­li­copter came in ... it was the res­cue he­li­copter and I thought, oh s***.’’

The he­li­copter dropped paramedics on to the beach be­fore go­ing on to land at the camp­ground.

Paramedics con­tin­ued work­ing on the man with a de­fib­ril­la­tor for about an hour, he said.

He said the per­son­nel seemed shaken, and up­set.

Af­ter about an hour and a half, the am­bu­lance and he­li­copter left the scene, fol­lowed by the RIBs which headed south.

The New Zealand De­fence Force con­firmed Tay­lor’s death. ‘‘The next of kin have been in­formed, and a fam­ily li­ai­son of­fi­cer has been as­signed,’’ an NZDF spokesper­son con­firmed.

Tay­lor joined the Royal New Zealand In­fantry Reg­i­ment as a mem­ber of the Army Re­serve in 1993, join­ing the Reg­u­lar Force in Oc­to­ber 1997. He served in East Ti­mor and Afghanistan.

‘‘Many of the Reg­i­ment, both RNZIR and NZSAS, will re­mem­ber him as an out­stand­ing sol­dier, leader, fa­ther, fam­ily man, and friend to many, as well as be­ing an all-round top bloke,’’ army chief Ma­jor Gen­eral Peter Kelly said. ‘‘He was a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional, who was known for his ded­i­ca­tion and reli­a­bil­ity – al­ways up­hold­ing our core val­ues in ev­ery en­deav­our. I know that his fam­ily, friends and work­mates will be keenly feel­ing the loss of a hus­band, fa­ther and friend.

‘‘My thoughts are with them all over the coming days and weeks.’’

The sol­dier’s fam­ily are be­ing sup­ported by mem­bers of New Zealand Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Force and the New Zealand Army.

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing on be­half of the coro­ner.

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