Family and friends mourn the loss of young kayaker killed

ALTOONA, PENNSYLVANIA (WIVB) — Family and friends of 21 year-old Jacob McCormick gathered in Altoona, Pennsylvania for a prayer vigil Tuesday night.

McCormick’s body was found nearly 24 hours after he launched his kayak from Golden Hill State Park Monday morning. He was traveling with his identical twin brother, Nathaniel McCormick and his friend, Joseph Williams, 18.

When William’s boat capsized, he held onto Nathaniel’s kayak while Jacob paddled away for help.

The two men survived after drifting in a choppy and chilling Lake Ontario for more than 17 hours. They made it to the shore 15 miles away, while Jacob was found at shore almost three hours later.

Loved ones of the McCormick twins say the loss has been a devastation to the community.

“We just received news this morning that one of our young men from our church passed away in a kayaking accident. It was devastating news. It was very, very unexpected, but no one’s guaranteed tomorrow,” said Ronald Anderson, the McCormick’s Pastor.

Pastor Anderson says Jacob was a man of faith, a youth leader and an exceptional person.

“He had just a quality character, a young man that anybody would be proud to call their son or their brother, your friend,” said Anderson.

Pastor Anderson says the brothers were best friends and did everything together. He said it was hard to tell the two apart.

The twins often traveled to Western New York to kayak and visit family.

“Both of them just exemplary young men, very friendly, outgoing, would relate to everybody and they were very very close,” said Anderson.

The parents of the twins have been reunited with Nathaniel in New York. 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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