Mass. man dies in kayak accident off MDI

Posted June 19, 2011, at 5:59 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine —- A Massachusetts man apparently drowned Sunday in Frenchman Bay after he went for a morning paddle in a kayak off Hancock Point and got caught by stiff winds, according to a Maine Marine Patrol official.

Sgt. Jay Carroll said the man’s body was recovered off the Porcupine Islands by the Coast Guard on Sunday afternoon. Carroll declined to identify the man, who is in his 20s, because authorities were still trying to contact his relatives around 4 p.m. Sunday, he said.

Carroll said the man was on vacation with his wife when he set out by himself from Hancock Point around 7 a.m. The wind was blowing fairly hard even at that hour, Carroll said, and later increased to gusts of between 30 and 35 mph.

Carroll said the wind likely was to blame for the man’s death. The man was kayaking in an open-decked kayak, he said, but was wearing a life jacket.

“That’s obviously what we believe to be the cause of the accident,” Carroll said of the wind. “He was nonresponsive when he was found.”

Emergency response officials from other agencies and several nearby towns assisted in the search effort. The man was found floating in the water away from the kayak, which had been found earlier, Carroll said.

Carroll said it will be up to the state medical examiner’s office to decide whether to conduct an autopsy on the deceased man.

According to weather buoy data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ocean temperature off Bar Harbor on Sunday morning was between 55 and 60 degrees. According to several scientific and water safety websites, people in water less than 60 degrees often become exhausted or unconscious from hypothermia after roughly an hour.

Carroll said that whenever anyone goes boating, regardless of what type of boat they are in or whether they are going out by themselves or with others, they should assess the weather conditions and forecast before heading out.

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