American Found Dead Off Puerto Rican Coast

A Utah family’s vacation to Puerto Rico took a devastating turn when 52-year-old Ben Kerbs was found dead near Balneario Beach in Fajardo. Kerbs disappeared while kayaking with his wife off Playa Escondida, prompting a rigorous search operation by the United States Coast Guard and local Puerto Rican authorities.

The Coast Guard initiated the search after receiving an emergency call around 1:53 p.m. on Thursday. Despite deploying helicopters and multiple rescue teams, Kerbs could not be found in time. The rescue efforts were hindered by challenging ocean conditions that exceeded safety parameters for rescue vessels.

During the rescue mission, two lifeguards who ventured into the dangerous waters to save Kerbs found themselves in perilous conditions, necessitating an aerial rescue. Kerbs was later found lifeless, floating face-down among the reefs, according to official reports.

Drone technology was employed to comb the coastline as part of the search efforts. Nino Correa, the commissioner of the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau, extended his deepest condolences to the Kerbs family. He also praised the unwavering dedication of the rescue teams in such dire circumstances. Correa issued a warning against visiting the beaches due to high rip current risks until at least Sunday.

Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan, echoed Correa’s sentiments, highlighting the dangerous nature of the island’s water conditions, even for experienced swimmers. He stressed the importance of vigilance and immediate reporting of any signs of distress to authorities, given the lack of lifeguards on most Puerto Rican beaches.

The community has rallied around the Kerbs family, setting up an online fundraising campaign to help with funeral costs. This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable power of nature and the importance of heeding local warnings and conditions while partaking in coastal activities.