Oak Harbor man drowns after falling from kayak

A 58-year-old Oak Harbor man died Saturday, Dec. 31 after he fell out of his kayak into the water off Joseph Whidbey State Park west of Oak Harbor, Island County Coroner Robert Bishop reported.

Bishop identified the man as Oak Harbor resident Scott Irvin. Following an autopsy and death investigation, Bishop determined that the cause of death was drowning and manner of death was accidental.

Witnesses on the shore were powerless to help Irvin as they waited for rescue boats to arrive.

“It’s pretty heart breaking to see that,” said Battalion Chief Chris Swiger with North Whidbey Fire & Rescue. “But in a situation like this, you have to wait for the assets to get there.”

A witness in the parking lot at Rocky Point, a park on Navy property adjacent to Joseph Whidbey State Park, called 911 around 1 p.m. after seeing a man had fallen from his kayak off shore, the coroner and sheriff’s office reported.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue deployed two rescue boats, the Island County Sheriff’s Office sent out the marine rescue unit and a Coast Guard helicopter responded to the call. A Coast Guard boat and Navy Search and Rescue were also in the process of responding, but Irvin was pulled out of the water before they arrived.

Swiger said he and other first responders on shore tried to keep track of Irvin with binoculars. He was about 300 yards off shore; winds and waves were picking up as a storm was moving in, Swiger said. They could see he was trying to get back into the kayak.

The witnesses eventually lost track of Irvin but later found him. They couldn’t tell at that point whether he was conscious, Swiger said.

The Coast Guard helicopter located Irvin and directed the sheriff’s boat to him at about 3 p.m. First responders immediately started CPR and transported him to WhidbeyHealth Medical Center. He was later pronounced dead after continued life-saving efforts.

Irvin was not wearing any kind of personal flotation device or a dry or wet suit. Toxicology results are pending, the coroner reported.