Police rescue officer killed in New Zealand

Nathan Deutschbein, a Blue Mountains police rescue officer, was killed in an avalanche in New Zealand last week.

Leading Senior Constable Deutschbein, 40, had served with the rescue squad in the Mountains since 2016. He joined the NSW Police Force in 2011 after transferring from Tasmania.

He was climbing on Mt Cook in New Zealand’s south island when he was caught in an avalanche last Thursday. His climbing companion suffered minor injuries.

Fellow Police Rescue officer, Senior Constable Steve Day, said Constable Deutschbein had been a gifted worker whose experience as a mountaineer meant he could quickly figure out the best way to reach people stuck in canyons or on cliffs.

“He had the ability to assess and come up with the best possible system for accessing them,” he said.

“He was literally one of our best operators and a very experienced roper.”

He had innate skills that just can’t be taught, Constable Day said.

“He was a very good asset to the rescue squad – confident and able to exercise initiative.

“With the type of skills he had, he will be one of the biggest losses to the squad.”

Constable Day described his colleague as “one of those genuine guys that everyone liked”.

NSW Police issued a statement offering support and condolences. It said the family and colleagues had requested privacy.

NSW Police Legacy has established an appeal to raise funds for Constable Deutschbein’s wife, Skye, and their two daughters.

Its Facebook page described him as someone who earned “high praise for his work and loyalty from his friends and colleagues”.

“Nathan thrived in the outdoors and loved adventure. He could only be described as a man who lived life to the full and his passion rubbed off on everyone around him.”

Donations to the Deutschbein family can be made at http://deutschbeinfamilyappeal.gofundraise.com.au/.

Julie Burton, from the OzCanyons Facebook group, posted a link to the fundraising page: “This fella was one of us, and also a member of Blue Mountains Police Rescue and more than likely came to help when one of us was in trouble in a canyon. We knew him as Von Dutchy.”

The mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said the news was “devastating”.

“The love of our whole community goes out to Nathan’s family, friends and colleagues. He was such an admired and respected person.”

The New Zealand Department of Conservation Aoraki/Mt Cook operation manager, Brent Swanson, said the incident highlighted the risks involved in exploring the country's mountains.

  • - With stuff.co.nz