A man’s attempt to help a kayaker in need turned into a large and desperate search and rescue effort in the waters off the Kemah Boardwalk on Wednesday, officials said
More than 10 local agencies were helping search for Todd Riddle, 57, in Galveston Bay on Wednesday evening, more than eight hours after he went missing in the waters near the boardwalk, officials said.
Riddle, an employee at the Kemah Boardwalk, jumped into the water at about 9:30 a.m. along with several other employees to help a kayaker who had fallen from his boat about 100 yards offshore of Kemah, said Kemah Police Chief Walter Gant during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
What happened next is unclear. The employees reached the kayaker, who was able to safely reach the shore. However, Riddle disappeared into the water.
Witnesses on shore saw Riddle go missing and called police for help.
Search teams from Nassau Bay, Seabrook and Webster, along with other departments, were called in to search the waters around the bay, and the U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter to aid with the search.
Riddle had not been located as of 5 p.m. By that time, officials were still referring to their task as a search and rescue operation. They vowed to continue the search throughout the night.
During the press conference, officials hailed Riddle for his bravery, and confirmed that he is a relative of a member of the Kemah Police Department.
They also acknowledged the dangers that people face when would-be rescuers enter the water without proper preparations.
“People need to be sure to have the proper supplies before going into the water and be aware of their surroundings,” Gant said. “This is just really unfortunate.”
It’s the second time this year that the Kemah Police Department has been tied to a missing person in Galveston Bay. In June, former Kemah Police Chief Chris Reed died after falling off a boat north of the Texas City Dike on June 7. Coast Guard, law enforcement crews and volunteers searched for 40 hours before recovering his body in the early morning of June 9.