Rescuers found two 14-year-old boys dead Monday in the Gulf of Mexico, two days after they became separated from their school group during a kayaking-camping trip off the coast of Florida, authorities said.
The bodies of Sean Wilkinson and Clay McKemie of Rome, Ga., were found with their overturned kayak off the state’s northern peninsula, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
They had become lost Saturday while kayaking with a group from Darlington High School in Rome and were believed to have been wearing life vests. The other eight people in their party were found Sunday, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Karen Parker.
The group had headed north in the Gulf of Mexico and intended to skirt the coastline for 4½ miles until arriving at Coon Island, where they planned to spend Saturday night, said Capt. John Burton of the state agency. The group, which included several kayaks and canoes, was led by a motorized catamaran raft.
During the trip, the choppiness of the water and the inexperience of the kayakers led some boats to get separated from the group, Burton said. All but one of the kayaks tied up to the raft, as 2 to 3 foot waves developed in the gulf amid scattered rains and high winds, Burton said.
About 9 p.m. Saturday, one of the chaperones, with a teenager, began searching for the missing kayak because they thought they saw a light in the distance.
But they became lost as well, and the two paddled for three to four hours until the chaperone was finally able to use his cell phone. He called his wife in Georgia, who then called the Coast Guard.
A Coast Guard helicopter located the six kayakers tied up to the raft about 3 a.m. Sunday and a rescue boat brought them to shore. About an hour later, the helicopter located and hoisted the kayak with the chaperone and teenager aboard.