UPDATE: The body of the missing kayaker was recovered around 2:30 p.m. Friday in about 9 feet of water about a third of a mile from where he was last seen, said Fish and Game Sgt. Geoffrey Pushee.
Alec Bronchuk, 20, of Merrimack was identified as the victim
Fish and Game officials also identified Sean Donahue, 24, Bronchuk's older brother and the pair had gone out kayaking early Thursday morning before both their boats capsized.
Original article follows:
CONCORD — An early morning kayak trip on the Merrimack River quickly turned catastrophic for two brothers Thursday.
One man made it to the riverbank on his own, but search teams spent the day looking for the other brother without success.
By 5 p.m., rescuers said there was little chance of the kayaker’s survival in the chilly river waters, which got even colder with Thursday’s rain.
The search for the victim’s body wrapped up early Thursday evening and officials said they would resume it on Friday.
Concord Fire Chief Daniel Andrus said the two men, believed to be in their 20s and from Merrimack, set out around 7 a.m. from the Sewalls Falls recreation area near the bridge. “They traveled a very short distance downstream and both kayaks capsized,” he said.
One man managed to get to a rock and then to shore, but the current swept his brother downstream and out of sight, Andrus said. Neither man was wearing a life jacket.
The man who made it to shore found someone with a cell phone to call for help. First responders from the Concord Fire Department have trained for water rescues, and quickly put two boats into the river from different locations, the chief said.
A state police aircraft that had been monitoring traffic conditions on Interstate 93 also joined the search, Andrus said, “which was very helpful, but they couldn’t locate anybody either.”
Fish and Game officials said the search extended from the Sewall Falls Bridge where the kayakers put in to Second Street downstream near Beaver Meadow Elementary School in Concord.
It was raining Thursday morning with temperatures in the 50s; Andrus said he heard that the water temperature was around 40 degrees.
The chief said the Merrimack has claimed other lives in that spot, including a local man who was very familiar with the river but who lost his footing while fishing and was swept away nearly six years ago.
“I have a lot of respect — and that means fear — for that river,” he said.
Thursday afternoon, Andrus had been holding out hope that the kayaker somehow managed to get out on his own somewhere downriver.
“Until we know differently, we hold onto the hope that there may be some possibility that he made it out,” he said. “Certainly that hope diminishes as time goes on.”
Around 1:30 p.m., officers from New Hampshire Fish and Game launched their airboat with underwater sonar equipment.
A Marine Patrol spokesman said officials contacted the operators of a hydroelectric dam up the Merrimack River in the Penacook section of Concord, asking them to reduce the flow through the dam to slow the current in the river.
The Sewall Falls Bridge area is a popular spot for recreational activity with an extensive network of trails for hiking and dog walking, boating and fishing from shore.
Chief Andrus returned to the scene later in the afternoon to receive an updated briefing from first responders.
“This is such a beautiful spot but it also can be deadly,” Andrus said.