Crews find body of missing kayaker in river

Rescue crews on Saturday found the body of a kayaker who went under water on the Catawba River near the Interstate 85 bridge on the Gaston-Mecklenburg county line, Medic confirmed.

Officials said the man’s body was found in approximately 10 feet of water around 6:30 p.m., reported WBTV, the Observer’s news partner.

Charlotte Fire Department dive and rescue team members assisted the West Mecklenburg Volunteer Fire Department at the river. The person went under about 4 p.m. near the U.S. National Whitewater Center, according to a tweet from the Charlotte Fire Department’s emergency communication center.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., thunder and lightning forced the Charlotte Fire Department to pull its boat out of the river temporarily, according to WBTV.

At about 4:50 p.m., Medic reported that the search had turned to “recovery mode,” meaning the kayaker was presumed dead.

Emergency crews set up a staging area at Dale’s Boat Landing in the 7300 block of Wilkinson Boulevard, on the Belmont side of the river.

The search is near where rescue crews looked much of the day Friday for a man witnesses said jumped off the I-85 bridge at about 11:30 a.m.

Witnesses could not confirm whether that person remained in the water or got out safely, so search crews asked for the public’s help to collect more information.

Two witnesses on Friday called 911 to say they saw a man run along the bridge and jump off the southbound side.

They described him as white, 19 to 22 years old, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, with a thin build and dirty blond hair. He was wearing only light blue boxer shorts.

Marusak: 704-358-5067;

Twitter: @jmarusak