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Kayaker Succumbs To Hypothermia After Capsizing

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

National Park News

Four college friends left the Little Sand Bay boat launch on the afternoon of June 7th to kayak to a campsite on Sand Island three miles away. Rangers had advised the kayakers that a small craft advisory had been posted for that area that forecast northeast winds of 20 to 25 knots and waves of from three to five feet. One of the kayaks began taking on water about a mile from the island and soon became submerged, causing the kayaker to abandon his vessel. A second kayaker, Kevin Dammen, 20, turned back to assist and capsized while doing so. The remaining two kayaker were able to help the first, but soon lost sight of Dammen, who they last saw straddling his kayak and holding a paddle. One of them returned to Little Sand Bay and reported the incident to a campground host. The NPS notified the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department and a multi-agency search was begun. There were three- to five-foot-high waves on the lake during the search and the water temperature was in the mid-40s. The two kayakers on Sand Island were picked up by a park boat and returned to short. The crew of a Coast Guard vessel found Dammen floating in the water near Sand Point. Efforts to revive him were unavailing. The county coroner subsequently determined that he’d succumbed to hypothermia.


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