A search for a missing kayaker at Freeman Lake that began Tuesday ended roughly 24 hours later when a Hardin County man was found Wednesday afternoon by the Louisville Metro Police Dive Team.
Kenneth Robertson, 19, was located in about 20 feet of water not far from where he last was seen on the lake.
Elizabethtown Police Department spokesman Chris Denham said Robertson was found “in the immediate area” of where he had last been seen at 3:24 p.m. by the Louisville Metro Police Department dive team.
During a news conference about an hour before Robertson was found, Denham said it was the first drowning ever at Freeman Lake.
Emergency officials received a call at 3:43 p.m. Tuesday of a swimmer in distress by a kayak a few hundred yards from the shoreline at Freeman Lake.
“Both police and fire crews arrived on scene in under three minutes and immediately began rescue efforts,” Denham said.
Authorities in boats and dive teams searched the lake until the early morning hours Wednesday and then started again around 11 a.m.
Denham said one of the challenges divers faced was the depth and visibility of the lake.
He said he was unsure what led Robertson to leave the kayak. He said there were family members of Robertson on the lake as well Tuesday afternoon. There also were friends and family of Robertson on the shore.
“It is very traumatic to them and our most sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected. It is a very tragic event,” he said.
Denham said a life jacket was found in the kayak that had been rented from the park office.
Tiffany Charfauros and her husband, Josh, were kayaking and fishing Tuesday afternoon at the lake when they became aware of something going on. They were about a quarter of a mile from the kayak and they heard screams from several people and headed to the area.
“Before we made it even half way to him he was under,” she said. Charfauros said the people nearest to the kayaker headed to shore to get help.
She said the man was kayaking a few hundred yards straight out from the dock when the kayak flipped.
“The man flipped. Panicked. And sadly we didn’t make it close enough,” she said. “…it was a tragic accident. … We took ownership of the kayak and lowered anchors and looked for any bubbles.”
Denham said one of the first calls to emergency services was park staff. They immediately went to his aid, but couldn’t locate him and help, he said.
Several agencies assisted in the search, including the Louisville Metro Police Dive Team, Elizabethtown Police Department, Elizabethtown Fire Department, Hardin County EMS, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Campbellsville Fire Department.
The park, which had been closed on the lake side since Tuesday night, has re-opened with normal operating hours.
Amy Inman with the City of Elizabethtown said boat rental operations have been suspended indefinitely.
Denham encouraged people to exercise safety measures while around a body of water.
“It is very important to exercise extreme measures of safety — any and all that are available to you,” he said.
Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or email@example.com.