Kayaker who perished tried to get help for two others

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Coast Guard ties up to a dock at Point Breeze this morning at about 9:15 a.m. after recovering the body of a 21-year-old man from Pennsylvania. Seth Dumrese of the Carlton Fire Department is pictured at the dock.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 September 2017 at 3:40 pm

Jacob McCormick, 21, identified as deceased kayaker found this morning by Coast Guard

POINT BREEZE – The kayaker who was found dead this morning about 2 miles east of Point Breeze had separated from his twin brother and a friend to get help, Undersheriff Chris Bourke said today.

Jacob McCormick, 21, of Duncansville, Pa., was found dead by the Coast Guard this morning at about 9 a.m.

He went out kayaking with his twin brother, Nathaniel, and their friend Joseph Williams, 18, of Altoona, Pa. The trio left the boat launch at Golden Hill State Park at 9 or 10 on Monday morning. By 11 a.m., “they were in trouble,” Bourke said.

The choppy waves had pushed them from shore and they couldn’t get back. All three had on life vests.

Jacob separated from the group at about 11 a.m. to seek help. He was in a red kayak.

Joseph’s green kayak capsized and sank. He held on to Nathaniel’s blue kayak to stay afloat.

They were reported missing by family at 6:30 p.m. The Orleans County Marine Patrol unit was deployed at 8:52 p.m. after a request from Niagara County sheriff. The Orleans marine patrol boat had three deputies and they went looking west of Point Breeze. But by 9:30 p.m., a storm had picked up and the vessel came ashore.

Orleans County had patrol cars and Bourke out checking the shoreline through the night.

Sometime around 3:30 a.m., Joseph Williams and Nathaniel McCormick made it to shore. They were wearing wet suits. They were east of Point Breeze, perhaps in Kendall, when they made it to shore. Bourke said they walked about an hour or two, before encountering John Gavenda who was out on a morning run with his wife before 6 a.m. The Gavendas brought the two kayakers to their home on Point Breeze Road, about 15 miles east of the boat launch at Golden Hill.

The two said they didn’t need medical attention. They just wanted something to eat and to use a cell phone. They took a shower at Gavenda’s before Orleans County deputies took the two to a command center at Golden Hill State Park in Barker.

“It’s unbelievable they survived given how terrible the weather was,” Bourke said.

At 6 a.m. there were rescue boats from numerous agencies, including the Coast Guard, the Sheriff’s Departments in Orleans and Niagara counties, Carlton Fire Department, Lyndonville Fire Department, and Olcott Fire Department.

At 7:58, dispatch was called when someone spotted a red object, possibly a kayak, overturned east of the breakwall at Point Breeze, according to the complaint summary report from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

The Coast Guard confirmed at 8:50 a.m. that the Jacob McCormick was found about 2 miles east of Point Breeze, about 1,400 feet from shore. At 9:10 a.m., dispatch was notified by the Coast Guard that McCormick wasn’t alive.

The Coast Guard heads to the Oak Orchard Harbor after recovering a missing kayaker this morning.

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article said the two kayakers knocked on the door of Gavenda’s house, but they were found while the Gavendas were out for a run at Point Breeze early in the morning.)

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