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Fatal kayaking accident claims life of 61-year-old Florida man on the Wenatchee River

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Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett reported a fatal kayaking incident on the Wenatchee River near Plain, WA that claimed the life of a 61-year old man on Tuesday afternoon, August 29, 2017.

The initial 911 call to Rivercom dispatch was made at 1:23 p.m. from a witness on the east bank of the river who had noticed an empty kayak floating in the middle of the river with a male subject in the water behind it. The witness stated the subject appeared to be trying to catch up to the kayak as they floated down the river. 

The subject in the water was described as wearing shorts with no personal floatation vest. After making the 911 call, the witness said she could no longer see the person in the river, and the kayak was still floating down the river unoccupied. Personnel from Chelan County Fire District #9, Cascade EMS, and the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area in an attempt to locate the missing man. The kayak was located and secured.

At 2:39 p.m., a member of the Swift Water Rescue Response Team, using a float board, observed the missing man at the bottom of the river in approximately 5 feet of water. The man was removed from the river to the west shoreline and CPR was initiated. He did not survive the incident.

It was confirmed that the victim was not wearing a personal floatation device. At this time, it is not known how he was initially separated from the kayak. The man’s friends eventually contacted Sheriff’s deputies at the scene when they realized he was well overdue floating from the old bridge on Chapel Road in Plain to a property along Meachum Road, which is about two miles downstream.

The name of the victim is being withheld at this time as the Sheriff’s Office and Chelan County Coroner attempt to locate next of kin out of state.

UPDATE: August, 30, 2017

The identity of the man who was drowned in a fatal kayaking incident on Tuesday afternoon has now been authorized for release. Michael R. Lawrance, 61-years-old, of Hollywood, Florida was located at the bottom of the Wenatchee River near Plain, WA by a swift water team member. Lawrance had been seen in the water attempting to catch up to the kayak shortly before he disappeared. The exact cause of the accident is still under investigation.

The Chelan County Coroner’s Office has made contact with Lawrance’s next of kin out of state.

(Submitted by Sergeant Kent Sisson, CCSO)

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