On March 21, 2015, the corpse of an Argentinian commercial diver was recovered over the reef in Avarua Harbour after conducting a search and rescue operation on Friday, 20th of March. Hernan Rikkers was a 30 year old commercial diver often referred to as ‘Kakara’.
According to the reports of coroner Nono Tearea, asphyxia or insufficient oxygen supply and drowning caused Rikkers’ death. The police said that a buoyancy compensator was present during the incident but they are unsure whether the diver was actually wearing it while working alone.
Rebecca Hosking-Ellis of the Cook Island Police mentioned that the recovered body of Rikkers has been turned over to his employer Chip Boyle, owner of Cook Islands Aquarium Fish where the late diver worked for. Authorities are still conducting a thorough investigation behind Rikkers’ death however, they did not declare what specific aspects of the case they are investigating.
Just last week, a 37 year old German national drowned in Aitutaki. Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said that water safety is given the utmost priority by the Cook Islands Water Safety Council.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of two people in our waters recently. Our condolences to the families of those loved ones who have lost their lives. Police were currently working through the process of acquiring a search and rescue boat for the Cook Islands Police Service. “ Tetave said.
“We are thankful to government for providing funding for this. This boat will greatly enhance our ability to quickly deploy to close-to-shore search and rescue missions.” Tetave added.