State Representative Craig Tieszen unfortunately lost his life in a New Zealand boating accident.
Tieszen had several ties to the community. He served as a former Rapid City police chief, a state senator, and a state representative.
The news of his loss is sending shock waves through the communities closest to him.
State Representative David Johnson of District 33 says, "He was a friend. He was a leader. He was a man with a backbone of steel. Politically, the guy just couldn't be ruffled."
Strong words used to describe the life of South Dakota state representative, Craig Tieszen.
The 68-year-old was in the Cook Islands for a family wedding, when he drowned in a boating accident on Wednesday.
A New Zealand news outlet reports that Tieszen died trying to save his brother-in-law's life. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law, 61-year-old Brent Moline, also passed away.
Now those who knew him best are in mourning.
Steve Allender, Mayor of Rapid City says, "We're in shock over the news and just never met anyone before who's so likable and professional and dedicated to public service."
Tieszen was in his first term as a state representative, representing District 34 in the state House.
He previously served as a state senator from 2009 until 2016.
Those who worked with him in the legislature say he was known for being open and welcoming to anyone.
State Representative Tim Goodwin of District 30 says, "You could always go over and talk to him. He'd kind of have a smile and just brought things back to reality."
He was also known for being bold and confident in his demeanor.
Johnson says, "I always looked up to him and took notes on how he handled controversy and antagonism. He was just such a model of strength."
But his public service doesn't stop at politics.
Tieszen served in law enforcement for more than 30 years - including as chief of the Rapid City Police Department, before now-Mayor Steve Allender took over the role.
Friends says Tieszen was never afraid of helping others. He was a volunteer with the Peace Corps following his graduation from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Kristin Conzet, South Dakota District 32 representative, says, "It truly will be a loss for the people of South Dakota and Rapid City."
Mayor Allender says the local community is there for families and those hurting from the loss.