Utah man found dead after disappearing while paddling in Puerto Rico

Oct 27, 2023, 6:28 PM | Updated: 6:39 pm

File photo...

File photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Utah man was found dead at a beach after going missing for a day in the waters of Playa Escondida, U.S. officials say.

Ben Kerbs, 52, was last seen by his wife on Thursday afternoon as he was paddling out from the Playa Escondida beach in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

According to the United States Coast Guard, its watchstanders at Sector San Juan received the call of Kerb’s disappearance at 1:53 p.m.

The watchstanders directed the launch of a search helicopter to look for Kerb. The Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action were unable to deploy surface assets due to unsafe heavy sea state and surf conditions.

“During search efforts Thursday afternoon, two male lifeguards who attempted to rescue Kerbs were soon overcome by dangerous sea state conditions and required rescue assistance,” the Coast Guard press release stated. “The Coast Guard helicopter diverted to the lifeguard’s position and safely hoisted them onboard.”

After returning from the lifeguard rescue, the rescue crews and the lifeguards reported seeing Kerbs’ unresponsive body in the water of the reef area.

On Friday morning, a lifeguard from the ‘Balneario’ beach in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, found Kerbs’ body and recovered it.

“We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Ben Kerbs, may they find hope and strength during this most difficult time,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan.

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Utah man found dead after disappearing while paddling in Puerto Rico