SEQUIM, Wash. (AP) — Survivors of a tragic weekend kayaking trip say a calm day unexpectedly turned rough with 35 mph winds and 3-foot waves tossing seven boaters into the water as they struggled to get back to shore off northwest Washington state.
Two in the church-affiliated group died and another was hospitalized in critical condition, the Coast Guard said.
"Within 10 minutes I couldn't see anybody or another kayaker anywhere," Dennis Caines told KING-TV (http://is.gd/1g1Br9 ).
He and his wife, Linda, fought their way back to the beach, far from their group, and wondered what happened to the others.
"The sheriff came up and said 'I have bad news,' and my heart just sank," said Dennis Caines. Jacob M. Austin, 52, of Lacey, had died after his kayak overturned. Hours later they heard Mandi Walkley, 39, of Chehalis, who was airlifted to Olympic Medical Center, had not survived.
A third kayaker, 50-year-old William D. Kelley of Lacey, is in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
"She was such a beautiful person," said Dennis Caines, choking back tears, as he looked through photos he took of Walkley during previous hiking trips.
"We lost two good friends and one is struggling," he said.
Bystanders spotted the kayakers in trouble about 2:42 p.m. Saturday. They requested help from Whidbey Naval Air Station, which launched a helicopter. The Coast Guard says a rescue swimmer and a response boat also helped.
Some of the kayaks capsized and four people apparently swam to shore, said Clallam County sheriff's spokesman Jim Borte.
Everyone in the group was wearing life jackets, Dennis Caines said.
Information from: KING-TV, http://www.king5.com/