Officials ID two canoers who died in York County

Local News

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Authorities have identified the two men who died earlier this week after their canoe capsized in York County.

The bodies of Benjamin Leeming, 26, of Newport News, and David Nicks, 24, of York County, were found not far offshore Monday evening, York County fire-rescue officials said. The U.S. Coast Guard said their bodies were found 600 yards offshore by divers around 5:35 p.m.

Virginia Marine Police are handling the investigation moving forward.

A Coast Guard helicopter, York County Fire & Life Safety, Poquoson Fire-Rescue and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission searched for the men near 111 Jennings Drive in the Dare area of York County, York County Fire Chief Stephen P. Kopczynski said.

Kopczynski said three men in total left Boathouse Cove in York County around 11:30 p.m. Sunday in the canoe, which was found earlier Monday near Bennett Creek.

Neighbors living near Jennings Drive say the sound of helicopters woke them up Monday morning. The helicopter was part of the search effort to find two missing men.

“It was determined the canoe had capsized sometime after midnight. The cause is unknown,” said Capt. Kevin Carroll with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Virginia.

One of the men made it back to shore and fell asleep on someone’s back porch on Jennings Drive because he was hypothermic. Dispatchers were first notified at 4:21 a.m., Kopczynski said.

“It limits your functionality to be able to move, your agility and your body starts to shut off functions just to survive. In some cases, you can lose consciousness,” Carroll said.

Before the two bodies were discovered, authorities previously asked those who live in the area (Dare, Seaford, Tabb, Poquoson) to check porches, yards, cars, trailers, etc.

The man who was found earlier Monday is being treated.

At least a half dozen agencies helped in Monday’s search.

“The survivor was able to give us information about where the canoe left from, where the canoe capsized and where he came to shore,” Carroll said.

From there, they used that information, along with information about the tides and currents, to create a search area.

“We extend our deepest condolences to all of those family members and friends who are affected during this difficult time,” Carroll said. “We always try to impress the importance of safety equipment, even something as simple as wearing a life jacket, so that we can help assist you.”

Coast Guard air and boat crews searched with help from the Hampton Fire Department, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, York County, Abingdon Fire and Rescue, Poquoson, Training Center Yorktown, Coast Guard Auxiliary and James City County.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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