Search continues for missing UNF kayaker

Coast Guard: 22-year-old went kayaking from Jax Beach pier Saturday

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The Coast Guard has expanded its search for a 22-year-old man who is believed to have gone kayaking Saturday near the Jacksonville Beach pier.

Navy, St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Coast Guard rescue crews continued to search Monday for Garth Sangree, a University of North Florida student.

Sangree was reported missing by friends after he didn't show up for church Sunday. Those friends held a prayer vigil for Sangree on Monday at UNF.

"We believe our God is a big God and can do crazy and miraculous things, and we just pray for that in faith, and we pray for comfort for his family," Thomas Vickers said. 

Based on wind and current conditions, the Coast Guard expanded its search area Monday to 2,250 square miles -- more than twice the size of Jacksonville. The search is taking place 50 miles offshore and includes several helicopters.

Investigators said Sangree apparently went kayaking Saturday in the vicinity of the Jacksonville Beach Pier and never returned. Sangree's friends said he rented the kayak from UNF.

Friends last saw Sangree Friday. They were at Jax Beach all day Sunday during the search.

"It's been hard, but we're all still -- everyone we've talked to -- still in shock," Kevin Todd said. "It doesn't feel real. You see this on the movies or the news with someone you've never heard of, but it's Garth."

Friends said Sangree is knowledgeable in how to survive in extreme conditions.

"Hopefully with his kayak he's got water bottles and granola bars with him," Katie Denham said. "That's what we heard, and from what his friends have said, we're praying he's using that to his benefit and surviving in some way."

The Coast Guard is still hoping to find Sangree alive.

"We don't think in terms of deadline when it comes to survivability. We give the person we're searching for every chance to be found alive, that's why we're out there constantly even at night," said Petty Officer Steve Lehman.

"He's an excellent swimmer and super athlete," Todd said. "He runs spartan races, marathons, Gate River Runs, 5Ks. That's what he does is save up his energy. He's super athletic."

Sangree is approximately 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He was reportedly in a lime-green and white kayak.


Anyone with information is asked to contact officials at 904-564-7500 and select option zero. 

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