Tasmanian family reunited with police officer 12 years after drowning tragedy

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Former Constable Leigh Bailey meets 11-year-old Bailey Price, whose father tragically drowned at Longford in 2006, while his mum was pregnant with him. Mr Bailey was an officer involved in the case and the Price family has "never forgotten him". Pictures: Scott Gelston
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Former Constable Leigh Bailey meets 11-year-old Bailey Price, whose father tragically drowned at Longford in 2006, while his mum was pregnant with him. Mr Bailey was an officer involved in the case and the Price family has "never forgotten him". Pictures: Scott Gelston

Police officers don’t always leave a positive impression on people.

When they arrive at a scene, it is usually to arrest someone, to question someone or to deliver bad news.

But Tasmanian mother Tina Price says she is forever grateful to one Tasmania Police officer who took care of her family following the tragic death of her husband.

The mother-of-three lost her partner Brett in 2006 when he drowned in Longford’s Mill Dam. She was six-months pregnant.

In the days after Brett’s death, Tasmania Police Constable Leigh Bailey was “genuine and caring”, leaving a lasting impression on the family.

Tina and Brett’s unborn baby is now 11-years-old and coincidentally, his name is Bailey.

“Brett and I had decided to call him Bailey, whether he was a boy or a girl,” she said.

However, Tina said meeting Constable Bailey during that tragic time felt like a sign.

“I think it was meant to happen that way, as silly as that sounds” she said.

Nearly 12 years later and Bailey has finally had the chance to meet his police namesake. 

After a story appeared in The Examiner about Constable Bailey’s retirement, Mrs Price reached out to share her story.

RELATED STORY: Tasmania Police Constable retires after four decades

“I had the pleasure and displeasure of meeting Leigh when my husband drowned at Longford in 2006. He bought my children, then six and four, remembrance plants for them to remember their dad,” she said in a message online.

“It's people like this gentleman in the police force that leave good memories in terrible situations.”

A reunion was then organised by The Examiner and she and her three children travelled from Burnie, where they now live, to meet up with Mr Bailey.

“It was just so lovely to see him again, as soon as I walked in he recognised me, gave me a hug and some flowers,” Mrs Price said.

“He was really someone that’s just stayed in my memory since Brett died, he was genuine, he was heartfelt and just wanted to help in any way he could.”

GIFT: Retired police officer Leigh Bailey brought flowers for the Price family when he saw them again.

GIFT: Retired police officer Leigh Bailey brought flowers for the Price family when he saw them again.

Mrs Price said she remembers Mr Bailey returning her husband’s sunglasses after he died - something that may seem like a small gesture meant the world to her, she said.

“I remember sitting around the kitchen table with him and he just said to me ‘anything that you want just let me know’,” she said.

“The thing that I wanted was Brett’s sunglasses that he had on when he died … it took him a few days but he actually went and got them for me.”

She said her older children remembered him but 11-year-old Bailey was “super excited to meet Leigh Bailey”.

Mr Bailey said it was “good to catch up” with the family after such a long time.

“This is the way I think it should be in the police force, having those relationships with families,” he said.

“You don’t really forget any of the cases, they all stay with you in some way.

“I think it helps if you can get that relationship with the family, I think it helps you get over it a bit yourself as well.”

Mr Bailey spent more than 40 years in the job and said the opportunity to build relationships with people in the community was one of the main reasons he stayed working as a “country cop” for so long.