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Kayaker dies in Rogue River


A kayaking death in the area last weekend has authorities reminding boaters to wear a personal flotation device while boating.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, two men were kayaking on the Rogue River early Saturday afternoon, February 7, when they encountered a large body of ice on the river. The two attempted to exit their kayaks and walk over the ice, when of the kayaks began to take on water. The victim, Thomas Shepard, a 65-year-old Grand Rapids resident, was pulled under the ice shelf by the strong current and the second kayaker, Daniel Silverthorn, a 50-year-old Grand Rapids resident, attempted to render aid to his friend, but was unsuccessful. Neither subject had been wearing a personal flotation device.

After attempting to render aid, Silverthorn made contact with nearby residents, who called 9-1-1.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Plainfield Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance were dispatched to the area of Rio Rogue Lane NE and Roguewood DR NE about 2:34 p.m. The sheriff’s department dive team, with the assistance of the Plainfield and Cannon Township fire departments and Aeromed, conducted an extensive search in an attempt to locate and recover Shepard’s body. They ended the initial search late Saturday night after conditions became unsafe for emergency personnel.

A second search was conducted in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 8th by the KCSD, along with the Plainfield and Cannon township fire departments. During the course of the second search, Shepard’s body was located a short distance from where he had last been seen alive.

The medical examiner’s office was contacted and the victim’s family was notified of the recovery.

No foul play is suspected.

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