KOTA KINABALU - A soldier and his son were found lodged together between rocks at the bottom of the Moyog river about 20-hours after they went missing during a family picnic there.
The bodies of Sgt Major Samra Tongkooh, who is attached with the Fifth Infantry Brigade in Lok Kawi here, and his eight-year-old son Noel Samra were found hugging each other among rocks at a depth of 7.2m by Fire and Rescue and Services divers at about 9am Sunday.
Samra, 40, who is a native of Tenom, and his son went missing in the fast flowing river at around 2.30pm Saturday after they tried to retrieve a slipper that fell into the river as the family of seven were heading home after a picnic.
It is learnt that Samra had jumped into the river to retrieve the slipper with his son also following him.
They however got into a spot of trouble as an undercurrent dragged them away.
His wife Elizabeth Magut and their 13-year-old daughter also jumped in apparently to help but they managed to cross over to the other side of the riverbank, where a villager rescued them.
Samra and his wife together with their five children had gone for a picnic at the river near Kg Madziang earlier in the day.
The other children - aged one, four and six years remained at the riverbank as the tragedy unfolded.
Acting Penampang district police chief Azmir Abdul Razak said the two bodies have been sent to the hospital for post mortem, with the case classified as misadventure.
He said that 55 soldiers, 26 firemen, 15 policemen and six civil defence personnel were involved in the search and rescue operation.
"By nightfall on Saturday, the search became difficult and resumed on Sunday morning. The Moyog river water was clear and this helped search and rescue members locate the bodies,'' he said adding that the bodies were found some 30m from the spot the duo went missing.
According to a family member, Noel was studying at SK Tansau in Kg Ketiau, Penampang and that Samra was supposed to take his 13-year-old daughter to enroll his daughter in a secondary school on Monday.
An officer with the army's Fifth Infantry Brigade in Lok Kawi Major Muzapar Abu Mansor said they would do as much to assist the widow and her family.