Body found in Virginia river after 8-hour search for kayaker
By: Caroline Coleburn , Matthew Fultz , Brendan King
Posted Mar 03, 2021
Channel 6m news Richmond VA
HOPEWELL, Va. -- Hopewell Police and multiple other agencies discovered a body at about 4 p.m. Wednesday while searching for a man who witnesses said flipped over kayaking on the Appomattox River around 8 a.m. Wednesday. The name of the missing kayaker has not yet been released.
Earlier in the day, police confirmed that one kayak with personal belongings was recovered near the Hopewell Marina. The kayak was found with a weight or anchor tied to the back of the boat.
William Owens, a friend of the missing man, said this was his friend's first time out on the water in his kayak. He bought the kayak yesterday and had just snapped a photo inside it on the river when the kayak flipped over, according to Owens. “He was excited you know, he got up early to take it out you know what I mean," Owens said.
Hopewell Police Lt. Mike Langford said an employee at the nearby American Water Company spotted the kayaker struggling in the water. The employee attempted to throw a life-saving device to the man. Rescue crews from Chesterfield, Hopewell, Virginia State Police, Virginia Marine Police, Coast Guard, and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries assisted in the search. "I just want to thank everyone who were out here today. All the resources that worked together to bring some closure to this for the family that has to mourn the loss," Langford stated.
The 38-degree water temperatures were potentially dangerous for the rescue crews on the river. "Without the proper gear with the water conditions it is extremely dangerous if you’re not experienced to be out here in these conditions due to the cold temperatures," Langford explained.
Owens said he and his friend frequently visited the marina to fish. "For him to go out here by himself -- he usually hits me up. He didn’t hit me up today," Owens said.
Paige Pearson, a spokesperson with Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries, advised anyone who goes out on the water to have a plan. "There's so much you can do to be safe on the water and that’s the most important thing to make sure you’re safe," she explained. "Wear your life jacket, have a whistle, tell people where you are, have that plan. Go out with other people who may have more experience to help you in case something happens."
Friends say Ron Case Van Haren took his brand new kayak to the Appomattox River on Wednesday morning. Shortly after, the kayak overturned and Van Haren was submerged in the water. Crews recovered the 37-year-old’s body on Wednesday afternoon.