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'When he smiled it felt like you were getting a hug'

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Devoted medic Donald Tucker, whose body was recovered this morning in water off Cooper's Island, was recalled by colleagues and family as a man with “the biggest smile that you would never forget”.

Heartbroken sister Nicole Harrison, who joined searchers early today along the Cooper's Island shoreline, said: “He was a gem. When he smiled it felt like you were getting a hug.”

An autopsy is expected. “No-one understands what could have happened,” Mrs Harrison said. “He was a very strong swimmer.”

Mr Tucker's body was found submerged in water close to where he set out swimming with a close friend yesterday.

He was reported missing shortly after 7pm yesterday, after his friend returned to shore.

Mr Tucker was hailed as “professional, caring and positive” by King Edward VII Memorial Hospital director of emergency services Dr Edward Schultz. He qualified as an EMT in 1998.

“He was always a true gentleman who put his patients first, was a real team player, and worked tirelessly to increase his EMT knowledge and skills for the benefit of this community,” Dr Schultz said.

“Mr Tucker was loved by absolutely everyone in the Emergency Department- patients and staff alike. His tragic and untimely death is a monumental loss for the EMT/ Ambulance Service at KEMH as well as his family.

"It is almost incomprehensible to think of the service going forward without Mr Tucker's incredible smile, gentle nature, and soft spoken words of encouragement for both patients and co-workers. He will be deeply missed by all.”

A BHB spokeswoman described Mr Tucker's fellow workers as “shocked and saddened by the sudden and unexpected death”.

Donald Tucker
Cooper's Island, where a swimmer is missing.
Police at Cooper's Island this morning searching for missing swimmer Donald Tucker

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Published March 19, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 19, 2012 at 9:49 am)

'When he smiled it felt like you were getting a hug'

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