Missing kayaker found dead in Lake Erie

Posted at 7:05 PM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 19:05:13-05

The body of a missing kayaker was found Tuesday morning in the waters of Lake Erie.

Andrew Lasek, 42, of North Tonawanda hadn't been seen or heard from since Sunday afternoon, when he was last seen paddling from Sturgeon Point toward Evans Town Park.

Lasek was a veteran and originally from Albany. His parents and brother came to western New York from downstate while first responders conducted the search.

His personal belongings and vehicle were still at the marina.

A search involving the U.S. Coast Guard, Evans Police, Erie County Sheriff's Office and Canadian Coast Guard was initiated Monday and that search continued Tuesday. Evans Police Chief Ernest Masullo described "an outgoing grid search in the air and on the ground to see if we can locate him."

Tuesday morning, searchers found Lasek's kayak along with his fishing pole around four miles north of Sturgeon Point. Masullo said the tube inside the kayak had been taken out to make room for fishing gear.

However, minutes apart, two separate search teams found Lasek's fishing equipment and his body. Masullo said Lasek was found about three miles away from where rescuers found his kayak.

Witnesses had apparently warned Lasek that waters were too choppy for kayaking. Authorities say he was wearing a personal flotation device but was not wearing cold weather gear for the water. 

"Wear your coveralls at a very minimum, or a dry suit," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Craig Allain with the Coast Guard. "In these temperature waters, a dry suit would be the best thing to be wearing."

According to the American Canoe Association: "Immersion in water as warm as 50-60 degrees can initiate what has been determined to be "Cold Water Shock." Symptoms include an increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as disorientation."

Among other cold weather tips, the association recommends eating high carbohydrate foods and drinking lots of water, and insulating your body by wearing synthetic fabrics instead of cotton clothing.

Among the personal items left at the marina was Lasek's phone. Authorities recommend taking a cell phone in a plastic bag onto the waterways, and to communicate with people.

"He did not let anyone know where he was. No contact with anybody, so those are some of the things that went wrong," Masullo said.

"Have a sail plan and have somebody with that sail plan and let somebody know when they get back to shore and what time they're expected to come back," added Allain.

The U.S. Coast Guard has an appavailable for boaters to get the latest information on safety regulations, request emergency assistance, report a hazard and file a float plan.

Lasek's death remains under investigation.



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