Saatchi & Saatchi chief executive Nicky Bell and general manager of the Wellington office Livia Esterhazy, said in a joint statement: "We are devastated by the news of Eric’s passing. Eric was an amazing guy, one of the last true gentlemen, hugely talented and passionate about his work, his family and his diving. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, our close team in the Wellington office and those in Auckland who knew and loved Eric. We will miss him dearly."
According to the Dom Post, the 52-year-old arrived in New Zealand from the Netherlands 30 years ago and has worked at Saatchi & Saatchi for 27 years. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
According to nzherald.co.nz, his dive mate Josh Masson alerted fellow divers nearby, including world-record freediver David Mullins, when he lost sight of him coming to the surface with a tight line.
They found the fish snagged at the bottom and, after repeated dives, eventually found him at a depth of 27m. But despite frantic resuscitation efforts, he was unable to be revived.