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Capsized Kayaker Succumbs To Hypothermia

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

National Park News

On the afternoon of Friday, September 10th, two kayakers headed out from the park’s kayak launch at Little Sand Bay to paddle to a campsite three miles away on Sand Island. Increasing wind and waves on Lake Superior caused the paddlers to become separated around 4 p.m.  One of the paddlers reached Sand Island and radioed the U. S. Coast Guard two hours later to report that his companion, 46-year-old Allen Kachelmyer, was overdue. An extensive multi-agency search was conducted that included vessels and staff from the National Park Service, Coast Guard, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  Shortly after 7 p.m., rangers found an empty, capsized kayak matching the description of the missing kayak in the waters near Sand Island.  The search for Kachelmyer continued unsuccessfully through the evening until deteriorating weather conditions forced its suspension near midnight. The search resumed at daylight on Saturday, with assistance from the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department, a USCG helicopter, and a Canadian Coast Guard aircraft.  At 7:30 a.m., rangers spotted a body floating face up in the surf along Justice Bay on Sand Island.  The helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer to recover the victim, soon identified as Kachelmyer, and transfer him to a waiting NPS vessel. Although Kachelmyer was wearing a life jacket over a full wet suit, the cause of death was determined to be hypothermia. The near shore marine forecast for the Apostle Islands area that day called for east winds of 10 to 15 knots with waves increasing to one to three feet in the afternoon.  However, winds at the Devils Island lighthouse from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday were blowing from the east northeast at 19 to 22 knots with gusts to 25 knots.  The air temperature was 53 degrees and the water temperature was about 47 degrees.   Waves in the search area were observed to be three to five feet during the early evening hours on Friday.


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