Kayaker missing after capsizing in Lake Michigan near Highland Park

SHARE Kayaker missing after capsizing in Lake Michigan near Highland Park
Highland Park police responded to reports of antisemitic flyers found in neighborhoods across the North Shore Apr. 28, 2022.

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Highland Park police file photo

Local authorities are still looking for a kayaker who went missing in Lake Michigan Monday night near north suburban Highland Park, even as the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search.

Police were notified about 10:30 p.m. Monday that 20-year-old Sebastian Duncan of Glenview had gone missing while kayaking in the lake, according to a statement form Highland Park police.

His friend, another 20-year-old man, swam to shore and asked for help from nearby homes in Lake Forest, police said. He told investigators they had launched from Park Avenue Beach in Highland Park and that both of their kayaks eventually capsized in rough waters.

Duncan’s family issued a statement Friday thanking rescuers who continued to search for Sebastian.

“We are beyond devastated but still hopeful he will be found,” the statement read. “We also want to express our gratitude for the out pouring of prayers, volunteer support from the community and every action being taken on his behalf.”

The family also included a message from Duncan’s friend, who said “without Sebastian’s actions that night, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

The friend told authorities that Duncan slipped underwater while they were trying to swim back to the shore and did not resurface, according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The search was suspended overnight at the Coast Guard’s recommendation because of “deteriorating weather conditions,” police said. Search operations resumed Tuesday morning along a four-mile stretch of Lake Michigan, as well as along the beachfront.

The Coast Guard called off their search about 1 p.m. Tuesday, but said it would be available to provide additional support if requested, according to a statement.

Laura Knapp, the Vice Commodore of the North Shore Yacht Club at the Park Avenue Beach in Highland Park, and her husband, Stephen, joined in the rescue effort.

The couple took a club power boat on Tuesday morning and searched the choppy Lake Michigan waters for the missing kayaker, heading north towards Lake Forest.

After the fruitless search, Knapp said, “it was pretty rough. It’s a small craft advisory right now.”

She said when the kayakers launched, “it was much worse and the wind was pretty intense last night.”

She added, “Conditions can change at any time. And you always should have a plan and tell people where you are going.”

Responders searched about 130 square miles on air and water, stretching as far north as Waukegan and as far south as Wilmette Harbor, according to authorities. Police and firefighters were continuing to search along the shoreline.

Duncan attended Northeastern Illinois University from summer 2016 until spring of last year, according to Michael Hines, a spokesman for the school.

The family said it was holding out hope for a positive result in its continued search for Duncan.

“All of those who know our son Sebastian know what a brave and extraordinary young man he is,” the family said. “Please keep us and his friend in your prayers.”

Laura Knapp, the Vice Commodore of the North Shore Yacht Club in Highland Park, pulls in a boat after searching Lake Michigan for a missing kayaker. | Neesa Sweet/for the Sun-Times

Laura Knapp, the Vice Commodore of the North Shore Yacht Club in Highland Park, pulls in a boat after searching Lake Michigan for a missing kayaker. | Neesa Sweet/for the Sun-Times

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