Man dies after kayak overturns in Port Townsend Bay

PORT TOWNSEND – A Seattle man has died and a Bellevue man was discharged from a Seattle hospital on Monday after a two-person recreational kayak they rented capsized in Port Townsend Bay one-half mile offshore.

Vishal Bhagat, 30, was pronounced dead at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at Jefferson Healthcare hospital.

He and a friend were rescued from an overturned two-person kayak that they had been clinging to for almost an hour in the cold Port Townsend Bay water between Point Hudson and Marrowstone Island, said Jefferson County Undersheriff Tim Perry.

Arvind Kumar Kaul, 30, was airlifted on Saturday to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of hypothermia, said East Jefferson Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Mingee.

During a weekend visit to Port Townsend with family and friends, the two men and others in their party rented kayaks from PT Outdoors to spend the afternoon paddling around Port Townsend Bay.

While others decided to go out to eat, Bhagat and Kaul elected to embark early on their kayak ride, said Walt Washington, PT Outdoors co-owner.

Washington said he asked the two men if they had ever kayaked before.

Kaul had, and was at an intermediate skill level, while Bhagat was a beginning kayaker, Washington said.

Because of both men’s relative inexperience, Washington directed them to stay within 500 feet of the shore.

“As far as you can throw a stone, that’s how far you can go out,” he said he told them.

“It’s something that we say more than once.”

After receiving instructions, the two men went out on their own in the kayak.

Members of their party soon returned to rent kayaks and meet up with Bhagat and Kaul.

They returned sometime later, reporting that they never saw the two men.

Washington spotted them through binoculars. They were about one-half mile from shore. He called for emergency assistance.

A Washington State Ferries vessel that was just leaving the terminal spotted the two men and deployed a rescue boat to pull them to safety.

When the ferry rescue boat brought the two men to shore, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue was waiting to treat the men.

Bhagat was in full cardiac arrest.

“He was comatose and unresponsive when they took him in,” Perry said.

Both men were taken to Jefferson Healthcare hospital before Kaul was taken by medical helicopter to Seattle.

It was the first serious incident Washington has experienced in the eight years that he has rented kayaks to people, he said.

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