Search suspended for missing Kasilof kayaker

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Thursday, September 11, 2014 10:29am
  • News

The search for a Kasilof man, who went out kayaking in the Cook Inlet near the Kasilof River Tuesday, was called off Thursday afternoon.

Leif Osmar, 38, was reported missing by his father Wednesday afternoon after he took his blue, 13-foot single-person kayak out, but had not returned after an unusually long period of time, according to a Coast Guard press release issued Thursday.

The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska National Guard began their search efforts Wednesday and continued searching through the night, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

The search continued Thursday morning with a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew. Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island arrived Thursday to search the Cook Inlet in the vicinity of Clam Gulch, Honings said.

Osmar’s blue kayak was found capsized a mile offshore of the Cook Inlet near Clam Gulch Wednesday, but no other signs of the kayaker were found. The trooper boat Augustine recovered the kayak during a later search. A life jacket was found floating about 300 yards away from the kayak, according to a troopers dispatch.

Weather during the search was reported as calm, Honings said. The family was notified when the Coast Guard decided to suspended the search at 4 p.m.

“The decision to suspend our active search efforts is always difficult,” said Michael McNeil, search and rescue mission coordinator, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family members of the missing kayaker.”

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, an Alaska National Guard 176 Wing HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crew of the 210th rescue squadron with two pararescuemen from the 212th rescue squadron aboard and an Alaska State Trooper helicopter crew made an initial search for Osmar.

The troopers and National Guard ended their participation in the search on Thursday.

According to a troopers dispatch, family members of Osmar told troopers they found his truck on the beach near his family’s fish camp near South Coho Highway at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Troopers believe he went kayaking sometime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. that day, according to the report.

Osmar’s father, Dean Osmar, 1984 Iditarod champion, told the Coast Guard that his son’s life jacket was still at home and he did not believe he took any survival gear.

News of Osmar’s disappearance has been difficult for the family to digest.

Tim Osmar, the missing man’s brother, said Leif was a free spirit who enjoyed adventurous activities like kayaking in the Cook Inlet. He said his brother was an experienced kayaker, but it still drove the family crazy how he would put himself at risk.

“It was not unlike him to disappear into the woods for a couple days,” Tim Osmar said. “I never wanted to go in a kayak out (in Cook Inlet). He liked to live on the edge, and sometimes you fall off the edge.”

Leif Osmar has two beagle puppies he took everywhere with him, Tim Osmar said. He could only speculate that maybe one of them might have fallen into the water and maybe his brother tried to save them and capsized.

After searching for his brother Wednesday, Tim Osmar said he got sick of looking at the Inlet and got away to Wisconsin to reflect on life and the memory of his brother. He said the chance of finding him alive after three days is slim.

“We grew up together (in Kasilof) and fished every day in those waters,” he said. “The Inlet is really big and one wrong turn and it’s all over.”

Honings said the search would remain suspended unless the coast guard receives any new developments.

Tim Osmar said accidents could happen at any time, which goes to show how precious life is. 

“We are only here for a short period of time,” he said. “(Leif) was really smart. He was different in many ways, but one of a kind. I am going to remember him forever.”

 

Update: 5:50 p.m. Thursday

The search for a Kasilof man, who went out kayaking in the Cook Inlet near the Kasilof River Tuesday, was called off Thursday at 4 p.m.

Leif Osmar, 38, was reported missing by his father Wednesday afternoon after he took his blue kayak out, but had not returned after an unusually long period of time, according to a Coast Guard press release issued Thursday.

The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska National Guard began their search efforts Wednesday and continued searching through the night, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

Osmar’s blue kayak was found capsized a mile offshore of the Cook Inlet near Clam Gulch Wednesday, but no other signs of the kayaker were found. The trooper boat Augustine recovered the 13-foot single-person kayak during a later search. A life jacket was found floating about 300 yards away from the kayak, according to a troopers dispatch.

Weather during the search was reported as calm, Honings said.

“The decision to suspend our active search efforts is always difficult,” said Michael McNeil, search and rescue mission coordinator, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family members of the missing kayaker.”

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, an Alaska National Guard 176 Wing HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crew of the 210th rescue squadron with two pararescuemen from the 212th rescue squadron aboard and an Alaska State Trooper helicopter crew made an initial search for Osmar.

The search continued Thursday morning with a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew. Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island arrived Thursday to search the Cook Inlet area around the Kasilof River, Honings said.

According to a troopers dispatch, family members of Osmar told troopers they found his truck on the beach near his family’s fish camp near South Coho Highway at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Troopers believe he went kayaking sometime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. that day, according to the report.

Osmar’s father, Dean Osmar, 1984 Iditarod champion, told the Coast Guard that his son’s life jacket was still at home and he did not believe he took any survival gear. 

Thursday morning a Jayhawk helicopter crew continued its search through the air while a Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island searched around the Cook Inlet in the vicinity of Clam Gulch.

The troopers and National Guard ended their participation in the search on Thursday.

Honings said the search would remain suspended unless the coast guard receives any new developments.

 

9 a.m. Thursday

A search is underway for a kayaker reported missing near the Kasilof River.

The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska National Guard are searching for Leif Osmar, 38, after he was reported missing on Wednesday, according to a Coast Guard press release issued Thursday.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received a call from the father of the missing man, who reported that he may have taken his blue kayak out but had not returned after an unusually long period of time. The father informed the watchstanders that Osmar’s life jacket was still at home and he did not believe his son took any survival gear.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew forward deployed in Cordova, an Alaska National Guard 176 Wing HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crew of the 210th rescue squadron with two pararescuemen from the 212th rescue squadron aboard and an Alaska State Trooper helicopter crew made an initial search for Osmar.

The Pave Hawk helicopter crew located the missing kayak in the vicinity of Clam Gulch but Osmar was not found. The trooper boat Augustine recovered the kayak during a later search.

A Jayhawk helicopter and Pave Hawk helicopter crew continued to search the area throughout Wednesday night. The search continued this morning with a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew.

Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island is making way to the scene to assist in the search.

The watchstanders have issued a temporary flight restriction for the area around the search until 8 a.m.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Leif Osmar should contact Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center at 907-428-4100.

— Staff report

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