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Man dies after kayak capsizes in Guilford

The man tried to retrieve his paddle and flipped. He becomes the fifth person to die on Connecticut waters so far this year.

GUILFORD, Conn. — A 34-year-old man died after his kayak capsized in Lake Quonnipaug Sunday. 

Police say he lost his kayak paddle in the water and tried to retrieve it, which led to him capsizing on the Guilford lake. The family, who was onshore, told police he was not a strong swimmer and went under. He was not wearing a life jacket.

The man was identified as Rodrigo Tocto of Orange Connecticut. 

The Branford Fire Department attempted life-saving efforts. He was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital.

The victim, who has not been identified, is the fifth person in Connecticut to die on the water so far this year. A 16-year-old boy drowned Saturday while swimming with friends on Uncas Pond in Lyme. In April, two died in Stamford after a vessel capsized and in North Stonington, a child died in a similar situation on Wyassup Lake.

RELATED: 16-year-old boy has died after water incident in Lyme

Captain Keith Williams with the Environmental Conservation Police says that is concerning, especially since Memorial Day Weekend is yet to come.

"We go through this every year this time of year. You get the warm temperatures everybody comes outside, they want to recreate but the water temperatures are still very cold," he said.

Temperatures in the lakes and Long Island Sound are still in the 50s and 60s. The warmer air temperatures, especially felt this weekend, heat up the body as well as physical activities on the water like kayaking and canoeing. The switch to the cold water can shock the body.

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"Your body temperature is acclimating to the air temperature," the captain said. "You're working up a sweat. When you hit water that's 60 degrees, it's an immediate shock to the body."

Police encourage people to wear a life jacket, don't go in or on the water alone and, if you do, let others know where and when you're going.

Bill Morrison with the Tolland County Rescue Diver says people shouldn't overlook the water temperatures. He recommends not spending long periods in the water until it heats up and stay in the shallow.

"When you're feeling a little chilled, get out of the water. Go back in once you've rewarmed," the West Stafford assistant fire chief said.

If a person in the water needs help, he says to call out for it. Those receiving the call for help should take action. He says try to remember things like what the person was wearing and where they were. He says those onshore should also know what their limitations are so they don't become a victim.

Fire crews in Portland also responded to a drowning call Sunday on Great Hill Pond. Dive teams were activated. The man was rescued by three people and taken to shore for medical treatment. His condition is not known.

"It is early," he said. "We haven’t even had Memorial Day yet and as you can see the lake is full of boats and swimmers," he said on Crystal Lake in Ellington.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


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