Coast Guard and Mendocino deputies searching for missing kayaker
FORT BRAGG, Calif. - On Sunday, August 6, around 2:50 p.m., the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) received a report from the United States Coast Guard Station in Fort Bragg, regarding a recovered kayak in the Pacific Ocean and possible missing person, according to officials.
Officials said the Coast Guard advised they were contacted around 1:40 p.m. by a group of ocean kayakers who had discovered an "unattended" kayak floating in the ocean, about a quarter mile north of Noyo Bay in an area commonly known as the Old Georgia Pacific Mill site.
An extensive search was conducted by the Coast Guard and the Fort Bragg Fire Department search personnel on boats as well as the Coast Guard Helicopter out of McKinleyville however, no people were located.
According to investigators, the kayak belongs to James Begley, a 64-year-old man from Fort Bragg. Witnesses said Begley entered the water on his kayak sometime between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. that morning. A witness who knew Begley contacted him and was told that he could not sleep so he was going kayaking. According to that witness, Begley was wearing a tan Carhart jacket but no wetsuit or life vest.
Officials said other witnesses who had seen Begley in the past several days mentioned him giving conflicting statements about his long term plans and other described him as having an "undiagnosed mental illness".
James was not found on land or in the area where his boat had been located, according to deputies. MCSO Search and Rescue Unit Dive Team responded to the location on Tuesday, August 8, and with help from California Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel, used their boat to dive in the area where Begley's kayak had been found.
Officials said the ocean waters in the area were described as 40 to 60 feet in depth. Officials also said the ocean conditions were calm during the search but divers were unable to locate Begley or any additional clues on his whereabouts.
MCSO is asking anyone with information related to this missing persons case to please contact the Sheriff's Communications Center at 707-463-4086.