Policeman on rugby tour to New York killed in 200ft hotel fall

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A British police officer on a rugby tour to New York died yesterday after falling about 200 feet from a hotel window.

Detective Constable Rhydian David Phillips, a 34-year-old officer with South Wales Police, was in the US for the first British-American Charity Rugby Festival, due to take place on Sunday in the Bronx. But he died yesterday morning after falling from the 22nd floor of the Milford Plaza Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

A South Wales Police spokesman said his wife, Justine, and two young children have been informed of the death and police in New York are investigating. But the fatality was expected to be ruled an accident, he said. Mr Phillips, who played in the centre for the South Wales Police XV, was found at 8am local time.

Last night his wife, who lives in the family home in Pencoed, near Bridgend, south Wales, said: "Rhydian was a wonderful husband and father to our two children. He was a dedicated officer who loved his job. He also loved his sport, and we all love him and we will all miss him dearly."

A spokesman for South Wales Police said: "Steps are being taken to fly Rhydian's body back to the UK as soon as possible and a number of his closest colleagues on the tour will return with him.

"Our deepest thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this tragic time and we are doing everything possible to support them."

Mr Phillips played for Pencoed RFC until the end of last season, when he left to play for South Wales Police. Pencoed treasurer Steve Phillips, who is no relation, said last night: "We are all devastated. This is going to leave a huge hole in our club."

The officer had been a team captain for several seasons, he said, and despite leaving the side was still a regular visitor to the clubhouse.

"He was in the club last Sunday telling everybody all the details of his trip," Mr Phillips said. "He was immensely looking forward to it."

Mr Phillips had risen through the club, starting his career with the mini rugby side before moving on to the junior, youth and then senior sides. "He was always a dedicated player," the treasurer said.

The club is planning to raise funds for the officer's family as a tribute to him.