A man from Everett, on vacation celebrating his recent retirement, lost his life in a kayaking accident on the Yakima River.

Courtesy NBC Right Now
Courtesy NBC Right Now

Charles Lackey had been kayaking on the river with his wife Cathy about 12 miles south of Ellensburg. He fell out and started trying to swim to shore near the Umptanum Recreation area. His wife was on shore waiting with lunch at their designated stopping spot.

Kittitas County deputies and Fire & Rescue crews say Lackey was wearing a life jacket, but he took it off as he prepared to paddle toward his wife. He grabbed a branch in an effort to exit the river, which caused his craft to capsize. Another rafting party found the man near the "Smiley Face" rock painted downriver. He was brought to shore unconscious.

Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue personnel tried to revive him but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputies are encouraging people to wear life jackets and stay vigilant in identifying and avoiding potential hazards while moving on the water.

Washington state has information for paddling activities and other water safety categories here.

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