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July 06. 2012 4:36PM

Missing Hinsdale kayaker's body recovered

HINSDALE – A missing kayaker was found dead Friday afternoon in the Connecticut River.

Thomas Howell, 57, of Hinsdale was last seen alive around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, about 100 yards from the boat ramp on Prospect Street where his girlfriend had come to pick him up, N.H. Fish and Game Sgt. David Walsh.

The woman had dropped him off at the boat ramp three hours earlier. When she came to pick him up he was not at the ramp and she could see him swimming about 100 yards away near his kayak.

When she moved closer to his location she found his kayak, but he was missing.

She called 911 immediately and a search for him commenced.

Hinsdale Fire Chief Jay Matuszewski, said the Brattleboro, Vermont, Dive Team, Northfield, Mass., Dive Team and Rescue Incorporated out of Brattleboro, Vermont, joined the search of the Connecticut River.

“They recovered the kayak with no signs of him,” Walsh said.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Fish and Game officers took over the search, Matuszewski said. “It was no longer a rescue at that point it became a recovery.”

Walsh said around 11:30 a.m. on Friday Howell's body was recovered in 15 feet of water about 40 yards from where he was last seen.

Walsh said the girlfriend described Howell as a novice kayaker. He was alone and was not wearing a life vest, he said.

The medical examiner's officer has ruled the death a drowning, however, whether alcohol played a factor has yet to be determined, Walsh said.

“We found some alcohol in the kayak. We don't know to what extent, it's under investigation but we believe it was a factor,” he said.


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