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Boaters rescue overturned kayaker in Bellingham Bay

BELLINGHAM — A 35-year-old Nebraska man was pulled from the chilly waters of Bellingham Bay and taken to St. Joseph hospital with hypothermia Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 30, after he overturned his kayak and clung to the boat for nearly a half-hour, according to police.

The man, who told deputies he had been drinking before he went out on the water, said he stood up in the kayak around 2 p.m. to take off a sweatshirt, lost his balance, and fell in, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.

He was wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants, and had a life preserver on, said Bellingham Police Sgt. Jason Monson.

After the man was in the water for 20 to 30 minutes, a couple men out in a boat near Boulevard Park saw what they thought was a log, Monson said. When they got closer, they saw it was the overturned kayak and pulled the man from the water, Monson said. They called paramedics, who met them at Squalicum Harbor. At that point, the man was so cold he couldn't even say his name, Monson said.

Though deputies didn't have probable cause to arrest the man for drinking and boating, Parks said, he was cited for not having a signalling device, like a whistle.

There was light wind and calm seas at the time, Parks said.

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