Kayaker presumed dead after disappearing into frigid water while with fiancee

Neither of them were wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.

ByJon Haworth ABCNews logo
Thursday, June 15, 2023

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, Wa. -- A man who was kayaking with his fiancée is presumed to have died after his vessel began sinking and he was submerged and he disappeared into near-freezing water.

The kayaker -- 37-year-old Travis Valenti from Massapequa, New York -- was kayaking on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park in Washington state last Friday at approximately 2:10 p.m. when his vessel suddenly began taking on water and his fiancée attempted to rescue him, according to a statement from the National Park Service detailing the incident.

"Mr. Valenti attempted to continue paddling but ultimately had to abandon his kayak and entered the water," officials from NPS said. "As Mr. Valenti's fiancée attempted rescue, her kayak overturned, resulting in her also entering the water."

Valenti's fiancée was able to swim to shore to alert staff from the nearby Log Cabin Resort that her partner had become submerged and was struggling to swim back. Neither of them were wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.

Log Cabin resort staff immediately responded to the area where Valenti was last seen but were unable to locate him in the water.

"On-shore bystanders and Mr. Valenti's fiancée assisted Rangers and personnel from Clallam County Fire District 2 with identifying the area he was last seen, which was estimated to be more than a quarter mile offshore and roughly 400-500 feet deep," NPS said of the lake in Washington located about 200 miles by car to the northwest of Seattle. "Rangers searched for Mr. Valenti by vessel for more than 2-hours but were unable to locate him."

A secondary search of the area was carried out the next day but Valenti still remains missing and is presumed dead.

Lake Crescent hovers around 50 degrees around this time of year due to its location and depth and sudden immersion into cold water can immediately impact a person's breathing as well as their ability to move their limbs, according to NPS.

"Swimmers are encouraged to use a buddy system," NPS said following Valenti's death. "Boaters should always wear a life jacket and understand the risks of recreating on large bodies of water, such as underwater hazards, wind, waves, and water temperature."