LAKE RONKONKOMA - Authorities continued their search Saturday for a missing kayaker in Lake Ronkonkoma after his empty kayak was found Friday.
The kayaker was reported missing Thursday afternoon, setting off a major search effort that included a helicopter, police boats and divers. Authorities searched until dark Thursday and for about 90 minutes Friday before resuming again Saturday morning.
News 12 spoke with Harold Conley who says that his son, Kevin Conley of South Beach, is the man that the crews are seeking. According to his father, the missing 40-year-old had recently purchased the used kayak that search teams found Friday along the banks.
Witness Michael Hollamby, of Ronkonkoma, says he and his girlfriend were floating on the lake in inner tubes at around 3:30 p.m. Thursday when they heard a man call for help. Hollamby says he tried to swim toward the man but couldn't reach him in time.
"Unfortunately, by the time I could get to him, it seemed like his vest popped off from around his neck," Hollamby says. "It seemed he was struggling, even with the vest. It seemed something was weighing him down, I don't know what."
Harold Conley says he believes the kayak sank because it had a hole in it. He added that his son was recently diagnosed with Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disorder. He says his son was in the early stages and showed few signs of the disease. He does not believe it played a factor in his disappearance.
Despite the elder Conley’s identification, police have not yet confirmed the kayaker’s identity.