Man drowns after Sonoma County kayaking trip goes wrong

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Officials in Sonoma County say a kayaker drowned Wednesday afternoon after a trip gone wrong at Goat Rock beach in the northwestern part of the county.

63-year-old Joseph Patrick Woods, from San Rafael was identified as the victim.

At 1:40 p.m., the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a person on the beach about two kayakers who had tipped over on the rough waters near the Russian River’s mouth near Jenner.

In addition to the sheriff’s office, the U.S. Coast Guard, a CHP helicopter and State Parks Ranger responded.

The other kayaker who had washed ashore and received medical attention told emergency personnel that he saw his friend dump his kayak and began to swim ashore, but had lost sight of his friend. That’s when he called for help. 

The survivor was taken to San Rafael Hospital where he was treated.

At about 2:55 PM, the CHP helicopter spotted a person in the water about a half mile out, and a mile-and-a half from the mouth of the river.

The Coast Guard boat pulled the unresponsive man from the water. He was taken to the Coast Guard station at Bodega Bay where he was pronounced dead. His family was present on-scene and learned of his death.

The Sheriff’s Office will schedule a forensic pathologist to conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of Wood’s death. The initial statement says they don’t suspect foul play or criminal conduct.