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Missing kayaker presumed drowned

The search is continuing Sunday morning for the body of a kayaker who reportedly fell out of a boat Saturday afternoon on Lake Washington, near the Newport Shores boat launch.

The search is now being called a recovery, rather than a rescue, because there’s little chance the kayaker could have survived in the cold Lake Washington water for very long, said Coast Guard spokesman Nate Littlejohn.

The search was called off late Saturday then resumed at daylight Sunday with help from a Coast Guard helicopter crew, which spent several hours looking for the kayaker, Littlejohn said.

On Saturday a witness on shore saw someone fall out of a kayak near the Newport Shores boat launch, about 200 yards from land, said Cmdr. Leslie Burns of the Mercer Island Police Department. The witness called authorities about 3:45 p.m., after failing to see the person get back into the kayak.

Littlejohn said a life jacket was found floating in the area, suggesting that the kayaker wasn’t wearing a life jacket. In the cold waters of Lake Washington, a person in the water “would only have a couple of minutes” to get to land before the water temperature would cause their arms and limbs to go numb, he said.

The Coast Guard will continue to assist Mercer Island Police today with four rescue officers using a 25-foot Coast Guard boat.