Daylong search ends without sign of missing kayaker

SUNSET BAY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dylan Lathrop loved his family, his friends and he loved the outdoors, the latter two the reasons he launched his kayak on Cattaraugus Creek Tuesday night.

But fire officials said Lathrop, 20, of South Dayton, and his friends should have stayed on land, because the weather was far too bad, and the portion of Lake Erie to which they paddled was far too dangerous.

“It was overwhelming for kayaks last night. The lake was as rough as I’ve seen it all summer,” said Sunset Bay Fire Chief Robert Weiskerger. “You’re dealing with the physical force of the waves themselves and undercurrent, as well as the current that wants to carry you further into deeper waters. There’s quite a few things against you when you’re in a situation like that they were in last night.”

Starting at first light Wednesday and lasting until dusk, crews searched via air, land and water with helicopters, boats, jet skis and divers.

Wednesday’s search turned up nothing.
Weiskerger said Lathrop and three other men in their early 20s headed out on Cattaraugus Creek, and then paddled out to the lake.
Winds were a major factor Tuesday night, which created six to eight foot waves in the bay, according to Weiskerger.
Weiskerger said there was a small craft advisory for boats when Lathrop and his friends ventured out, so it was far too dangerous for a kayak.
When the kayakers reached open waters, they capsized. Three of the men swam the 100 to 200 yards to shore. Lathrop never made it.
“They never had a visual on the subject, so from the time we arrived on scene we were searching for a victim that we never actually saw,” Weiskerger said.
“It was the worst conditions my guys have ever faced on those jet skis, and it may have been outside of our element, but true to who they are, they gave it a shot,” he said. “They gave it their best effort they could’ve given it.”
Members of the family spent the day Wednesday walking the breakwall and beach, hugging each other often for comfort. Family members said Lathrop had just bough the kayak about a month ago.
“You’d like to hope against hope, but I think the likelihood of surviving 14 to 15 hours in that lake last night through today is probably nil at best, unfortunately,” Weiskerger said.
The Coast Guard is expected to remain on standby in Buffalo in case they’re needed. Local crews are expected to resume their search efforts Thursday morning. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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