An 18-year-old kayaker who went missing on Long Island was found dead hours later, officials said Sunday.
Raistlin Ruther, of Riverhead, took his blue kayak out in Jamesport, NY., at around 8 a.m. on Saturday and never returned, the US Coast Guard said.
He was reported missing about 4:50 p.m. Saturday. Rescuers scoured nearby waters for several hours until coming across the capsized kayak.
A Southold Police Department marine unit then found Ruther’s body around a mile west of Shinnecock Canal just before 9 p.m., the Coast Guard said.
“To lose someone like him is so difficult to accept,” his aunt, Carissa Sexton, wrote on a GoFundMe page Sunday.
“He was your gentle giant, an old man’s soul,” Sexton continued. “I always told him how much I admired his maturity, independence, and adventurous spirit.”
“When Raistlin left us, a little piece of us all left with him.”
The teenager’s mom, Laura Gandara, of Murrieta, California, remembered him as an avid outdoorsman and experienced kayaker in an interview with Newsday.
Ruther “was such a well-mannered, polite boy,” his mom said, adding: “He was not your average 18-year-old.”
“He just loved to be so healthy. He had absolutely no interest in trying any drugs — not smoking anything, not drinking anything,” Gandara said. “I just felt like I never had to worry about him.”
“I never did think that something terrible would happen to him.”
Capt. Eva Van Camp, commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, said that authorities who searched the waters for Ruther had “truly hoped for a different outcome.”
“We offer our deepest sympathies to Raistlin’s family and friends during this unimaginable time,” Van Camp said in a statement.
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