David Sullivan’s body was retrieved in about 20 feet of water on November 27 near Round Bay, above, after he didn’t return from a kayak trip the day before.
When St. John resident David Sullivan did not return from a kayak trip on Friday, November 26, friends and family members feared the worst.
By Saturday night, November 27, those fears were realized when officials discovered Sullivan’s body around 5 p.m. in about 20 feet of water in Round Bay. Sullivan’s kayak had been found earlier that day on Hansen Bay beach.
Sullivan, 43, lived on the water’s edge in Hansen Bay on the island’s East End and often took his blue kayak out for excursions. He set off around 10 a.m. on November 26 and failed to return four hours later when he was expected back, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Ricardo Castrodad.
The Hansen Bay man was reported missing on November 26 by a family friend who called USCG officials at 9 p.m., Castrodad added.
USCG deployed rescue crews to search for Sullivan aboard the 110-foot patrol boat Coast Guard Cutter Cushing from San Juan, Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, Coast Guard Boat Forces St. Thomas 25-foot response boat, Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft out of St. Thomas, and a boat from the V.I. National Park, according to Castrodad.
VINP officials also scoured the East End shoreline for signs of the lost kayaker. One VINP ranger showed a photograph of Sullivan to beach-goers at Haulover Bay on November 26 asking if anyone had seen the missing man.
“We’ve found the kayak on shore,” said the VINP official. “At this point we’re looking at a body recovery, not a missing person.”
V.I. Police Department officials worked with private divers to retrieve Sullivan’s body on November 27, according to Castrodad.
Sullivan was officially pronounced dead at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center that evening, Castrodad added.
Officials had not ruled on Sullivan’s cause of death as of press time last week, but neighbors and friends said he was an experienced kayaker and strong swimmer. He was not wearing a life jacket, however, when he went missing, according to Castrodad.
“He died doing what he loved best,” said St. John Administrator Leona Smith, who knew Sullivan. “He loved the sea.”