A Riverhead teenager was found dead Saturday night in Peconic Bay off the coast of Hampton Bays after he went missing while kayaking, authorities said.
Eighteen-year-old Raistlin Ruther launched his blue kayak into the Great Peconic Bay from West Street in South Jamesport at 8 a.m. Saturday and was reported missing shortly after 4 p.m. the same day when he did not return, Riverhead Town Police said. Nearly four hours later, a capsized kayak believed to belong to the victim was located off the shore of Meschutt County Beach in Hampton Bays, police said.
The Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau, Riverhead Town Police Dive Team, the Southampton Town Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard Station Shinnecock boats crews, a Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod helicopter crew, and emergency boats from numerous fire departments on both forks searched the area until a Southold Police Department marine unit recovered Ruther’s body one mile west of the Shinnecock Canal just before 9 p.m., authorities said.
The victim was taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office in Hauppauge, where an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
“We offer our deepest sympathies to Raistlin’s family and friends during this unimaginable time,” said Capt. Eva Van Camp, commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “The Coast Guard and our partner agencies who participated in this search truly hoped for a different outcome to this tragic situation.”
His aunt, Carissa Sexton, launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to pay for the funeral.
“He was your gentle giant, an old man’s soul,” she said in the fundraiser. “I always told him how much I admired his maturity, independence, and adventurous spirit. When Raistlin left us, a little piece of us all left with him.”
Riverhead Police Department Detectives are continuing the investigation and ask that anyone with information on the incident call the department’s crime hotline at 631-727-3333. All calls will be kept confidential.