Homer fisherman dies in kayaking accident

A longtime Homer fisherman reported overdue from a kayaking trip on Sunday was found dead by a fellow fisherman early Monday morning. The body of Ken Jones, 72, was found in the water off the Anchor Point bluff about 2:30 a.m. Monday, said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl. Six fishing boats had gone out searching, and another fisherman found Jones’ single-person kayak about 1 mile from his body. Police do not suspect foul play, Robl said. Next of kin have been notified.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” Robl said on Monday. “We just wish them the best.”

An accomplished kayaker, Jones had gone kayaking about 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, just after a 22-foot high tide at 1:02 p.m. Jones parked his car at Ben Walters Park, put in his kayak at the Beluga Slough, and planned to kayak out of the slough to Mariner Park on the Homer Spit, Robl said. Jones gave a trip plan with his family, and his son Morgan reported Jones missing about 4 p.m.

Homer Police notified the harbormaster, the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers. Police did a shoreline search but did not find anything, Robl said. A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Kodiak also did a shoreline search starting about 9:30 p.m. Friends also put out a notice on social media. Fishermen in six commercial fishing boats — the Malemute Kid, the Wolverine, the Assurance, Valkyrie, Silver Streak and Silver Beach — also began searching. 

Crew on the Assurance found Jones’ kayak, and the other boats then began backtracking toward Homer. Megan Corazza said she and her father, Rich Corazza, of the Malemute Kid found Jones’ body about 1 mile from the kayak. The crew turned over the body to Homer Police, who took Jones to South Peninsula Hospital.

Robl said because Jones had been floating in cold water, it would be difficult to determine the time of death. Jones had no signs of injuries. He wore a personal flotation device, but did not have a cell phone or marine radio. Robl did not know if Jones had flares. Jones also did not wear a dry suit or wet suit. Robl said it was strongly possible that Jones died of hypothermia after he fell out of his kayak. According to the National Weather Service, marine conditions at 2 p.m. were northeast winds at 18 mph, with gusts to 24 mph, 4-foot seas dropping to 2 feet by 4 p.m., and a water temperature of 48 degrees and air temperatures from 37 to 48 degrees.

“Given the temperatures and the wind and the water exposure, he might have had a chance for a few minutes, but that was it,” Robl said. 

Police notified the Alaska Medical Examiner of Jones’ death and his body was sent on Monday to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

Jones is survived by his wife, Sara Jackinsky, and other family.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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