Kayaker remains missing on Merrimack River

  • Concord fire Chief Dan Andrus is shown at the site of a search and rescue operation on the Merrimack River in Concord on Thursday. Leah Willingham / Monitor staff

  • Rescue workers during a search operation on the Merrimack River off Second Street in Concord on Thursday, June 13, 2019. Leah Willingham—Monitor staff

  • Two kayaks were recovered from the Merrimack River in Concord on Thursday afternoon after it was reported that two men had capsized. One made it to shore and called for help while the other is still missing. (NICK STOICO / Monitor staff) Nick Stoico—Monitor staff

  • The Department of FIsh and Game's dive team deployed its remote-controlled underwater camera as the search for a missing kayaker on the Merrimack River continued Thursday afternoon, June 13, 2019. (NICK STOICO / Monitor staff) Nick Stoico—Monitor staff

Published: 6/13/2019 9:39:42 AM

An early morning fishing outing on the Merrimack River likely turned tragic in Concord on Thursday.

Two men, brothers in their early 20s, were fishing when their kayaks capsized in the area of the Sewalls Falls Bridge. Concord fire Chief Dan Andrus said one of the men made it safely to a rock and eventually called 911. He was not injured.

Marine Patrol and the Fish and Game Department’s dive team were still searching the Merrimack for the other man Thursday afternoon. Authorities have not identified either of the men but both are from New Hampshire. Neither were wearing life vests.

Two kayaks believed to be the brothers’ were eventually recovered downstream from the Sewalls Falls Bridge. The dive team also deployed its remote-controlled underwater camera about 1:30 p.m.

As of about 3:45 p.m., Marine Patrol Sgt. Seth Alie was holding out hope the man would be found alive. He stopped short of saying the search had turned to a recovery effort.

“I would say at this time, not knowing everything, it could still potentially be a search and rescue,” he said.

Alie said the Merrimack was “fast-moving with low visibility” through the water as rain poured down throughout the afternoon. He said authorities have been in contact with the state’s Dam Bureau about possibly slowing the river’s current while the search goes on.

“You can see down in 4- or 5-foot spots, but deeper than that you can’t see anything,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the beast with strong currents.”

Andrus said Concord fire crews responded Thursday morning at 7:02 a.m. to a report of two kayaks overturned on the river.

The fire department immediately deployed two boats and crews and launched a search. Andrus said crews had located some personal belongings of the kayaker downstream.

State police crews were helping in the search by land and by air, and boats from the Bow and Hooksett fire departments were also on the scene, which stretched from at least Second Street near Beaver Meadow School to the Sewalls Falls Bridge.

By 1 p.m., Concord fire crews had cleared the staging area set up in the parking lot off Sewalls Falls Road, where there is a boat launch into the river, while Fish and Game and State Police continued the search.

Marine Patrol urges all boaters to use life vests and keep a sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn available when spending time on the water.

“Paramount is having that life jacket readily accessible or wearing it,” Alie said. “Life jackets save lives.”

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