A report of an overdue kayaker that sparked a broad search of the western Peconic Estuary ended in tragedy on Saturday night when the body of the 18-year-old kayaker was found by a Southold Town Police Department search boat.
The kayaker, identified by Riverhead Town police as Raistlin Ruther, had shoved off about 8 a.m. from West Street in South Jamesport and was reported overdue to return to the Riverhead Town police about 4 p.m.
A search was commenced a short time later that ultimately drew in emergency crews from multiple East End fire and police departments, as well as helicopters from the Suffolk County Police Department U.S. Coast Guard station on Cape Cod.
Shortly before 9 p.m. the Coast Guard helicopter located the missing man’s kayak in eastern Peconic Bay. A short time later a Southold Town police search boat located the body of the man, who was wearing a life jacket according to a Coast Guard spokesperson.
Southold police said that the body was found in Southampton Town waters, just west of Robins Island.
A dry bag with the man’s cell phone inside was located on the shore of Mecshutt Beach in Hampton Bays.
The Coast Guard implored those who venture out onto the water in the winter to be extra careful about safety and the need for specialized survival gear.
“Unfortunately these types of tragedies are reminders of the importance of being properly prepared for the cold water temperatures when operation on the water at this time of year,” U.S. Coast Guard Lt. J.G. Collin Reichelt said.
This post was published in conjunction with The Southampton Press.