Kayaker who went missing on Eklutna Lake ID'd as active duty Air Force

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - UPDATE:

Alaska State Troopers have identified a kayaker who went missing on Monday at Eklutna Lake as Robert Brown, 20, of Texas.

Brown is an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) told Matcom shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday that they had received a report of an overturned and missing kayaker in Eklutna Lake. MatCom dispatches for the troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Wasilla Police Department.

Brown was reported missing near the Anchorage Municipal water supply intake. Due to the location, AFD did not deploy divers because of strong currents which created safety risks.

As of Thursday, Brown has not been located, according to a trooper dispatch.

Troopers are flying the Eklutna Lake area Thursday and are continuing search efforts.

Brown’s family has been notified.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A team of divers with the Anchorage Fire Department is assessing whether they will be able to mount a recovery effort for the body of a kayaker who capsized on Eklutna Lake Monday afternoon.

Chugiak Fire Department Assistant Chief Chris Wilkins said a witness called at around 5 p.m. to report a kayaker had fallen into the water. Several people saw the man holding onto the overturned kayak before he disappeared underwater while attempting to swim to shore.

According to Wilkins, the man was not wearing a life vest.

"Lack of life vest is the first thing that's important, and then being that Eklutna Lake is glacial fed, the moment you hit the water, you're going to have that cold water shock. So those two combined are going to make it extremely challenging for someone to swim in this lake," he said.

The Chugiak Fire Department and the Parks Service were first to arrive on scene, and sent two boats out onto the water to search for the missing man. A dive team with the Anchorage Fire Department was dispatched as well.

After so much time in the water, rescue officials say the man is likely dead. According to AFD spokeswoman Jodie Hettrick, the operation has officially been changed from a search and rescue effort to a body recovery.

“It would be safe to assume it is a recovery at this point,” Wilkins said.

Officials say they have a general idea of where the man’s body is, and dive teams are currently determining whether they can safely search for him.


Dave Brooks / KTUU