South Dakota State Representative and former Rapid City Police Chief Craig Tieszen died while on vacation in the Cook Islands.
Tieszen was reportedly trying to help his brother-in-law, Brent Moline, 61, who's kayak capsized off the island of Rarotonga, outside the reef in Avana Harbour. Both men drowned according to authorities.
Tieszen was 68. He was in his first term representing District 34 in the State House of Representatives, after having served in the State Senate from 2009 to 2016. Tieszen served with the Rapid City Police Department from 1975 to 2007, serving as Police Chief from 2000 to 2007.
Expressions of remorse and condolence flooded onto social media Thursday afternoon as news of Tieszen's passing spread.
“Craig Tieszen was a good man and a dedicated public servant, and his loss is very sad,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard in an emailed statement. “Craig Tieszen spent his life serving the public. He was a thoughtful and conscientious legislator, and a leader on criminal justice issues. More importantly, he was a true gentleman who was respected by all who knew him. Linda and I offer our deepest sympathies to the Tieszen and Moline families during this difficult time.”
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Gov. Daugaard will order the flags be flown at half-staff on the day of his funeral, which has yet to be determined.
Mayor Steve Allender said he a statement he was "heartbroken" the news of Tieszen's passing. Allender said the Tieszen family traveled to the Cook Islands last week for their daughter Leslie's wedding which was to be the same day.
"Craig, former police chief and current state representative, was a mentor and a friend," Allender said. "I have never met anyone so likeable, so professional and so dedicated to public service. We extend our personal sympathies and the condolences of the community to the Tieszen family."
Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris called Tieszen a "humble public servant," and said he will "always remember him as a pillar of our community."
"His service will continue to impact Rapid City and this state for years," Jegeris said on Thursday.