After more than 24 hours, the search continues for a missing kayaker after his kayak was found in Thames River on Sunday afternoon.
The State Environmental Police said a kayak was found just off of Dock Road around 3 p.m. on Sunday and they believe it belongs to 31-year-old Lyle Dagenais, of Montville.
"We do have his coat. It's right around the corner from this spot," said Patrick White, an assistant operations officer with Coast Guard Station New London. "We've already searched that area with nothing. We're still continuing our search up and down the Thames River."
Officials said the kayak matches the description provided by family members, a few of whom were at the scene. Civilians told authorities that they though it was an abandoned kayak and took it home on Sunday. They returned with the kayak on Monday morning after they heard police were searching for it and a missing kayaker.
Crews, including the U.S. Coast Guard, have been searching the Thames River since just before 1:30 a.m. on Monday. They were expected to out searching until dark. White said multiple air and land assets were deployed early Monday morning.
According to state police, Montville police received a call from a home in Montville about Dagenais. The call was received just before 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The family reported that Dagenais left his home around 11 a.m. on Sunday to go flounder/fluke fishing. He took three fishing poles, a tackle box and a gray/orange 11 foot kayak. Inside the kayak on Sunday afternoon, authorities said they found a fishing rod and fish finder device.
"We do have his cove," White said. "We already searched that area and found nothing."
Dagenais was last seen in the Montville area on the Thames River. His family reported that he does have a favorite spot to fish.
"He loved fishing. He enjoys it," neighbor Shaun Jones said. "He's a really good man."
Troopers said Dagenais' vehicle was found at a boat launch in Montville.
White said there's no reason to believe foul play would be involved. Authorities said drugs and/or alcohol were not believe to be a factor in this incident. Police said when kayakers stand in the boat, they can sometimes lose their balance, and were exploring that angle.
"As far as we know, he went out on his kayak [and] probably something happened. It might have gotten cold last night," White said. "We don't really know."
Even though the temperatures hit the 60s, the water temperatures were 40 degrees. Police said the negative effects are almost immediate because of the shock. Based on what he was wearing and the chilly water temperature, White estimated that he would have had between 15 and 30 minutes if he had fallen into the river.
"If he took the kayak out, he likes being on the water is not surprising, but the fact that he didn't return is pretty surprising," Jones said.
They described Dagenais as standing 5'8" tall, weighing 140 pounds, being clean shaven and having brown hair. He was wearing a gray "I Love NY" hooded sweatshirt, dark-colored jeans or khakis and hiking boots. He may have also been wearing a hat.
The Coast Guard described the river conditions as "calm."
"For the most part, the Thames River is pretty calm, there's no strong current coming up this way," White said.
Water crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy police, Connecticut State Police and the Montville Fire Department are helping. One of the challenges they are facing is the proximity to land. White said it was difficult to get a skiff into the water.
"But that's if he had fallen in the water," White said. "For all we know, he didn't and he's on land somewhere."
Ground crews from the state, Ledyard and Montville police departments are also assisting. Authorities said they still labeled as search and rescue at this time and it won’t be changed to recovery mission until 24-48 hours after he went missing.
"State police and Montville police are actively supporting the U.S. Coast Guard in the efforts to continue the search," said Sgt. Mark Juhola, state police.
White also urged anyone going out on the water in the conditions to take precautions.
"Always make sure that you're wearing the proper equipment," he said. "Personal locator beacons are a lifesaver when it comes to a search like this. [We're] not saying that [Dagenais] wasn't prepared, but when you go out on the water for future reference, make sure you're prepared with your right equipment."
White said they did not know if Dagenais has a life jacket. Connecticut state law mandates from November to May a life jacket must be worn, while from May to November, it is just required to be on-board.
"Always make sure you're wearing the proper equipment and personal locator beacons are a lifesaver when it comes to a search like this," White said.
Anyone with information about Dagenais is asked to contact state police at 860-848-6500.
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