Body of missing kayaker found in St. Johns County

UNF student Garth Sangree's death ruled accidental drowning


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that the body that washed up on the beach at Guana Preserve earlier this week is that of Garth Sangree, a University of North Florida student who disappeared after going ocean kayaking in Jacksonville Beach late last month.

The Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause of death was accidental drowning.

SJCSO spokesman Kevin Kelshaw said a fisherman found the body in the surf Wednesday afternoon and dragged it on the shore.

The Jacksonville Beach Police Department was called to the scene because of the possibility that the body was Sangree's. 

"We as a family have had closure for some time," Sangree's father, Mark Sangree told News4Jax Friday. "But this does help for some others who have not gone through the process with us. So it's good to have the body. However it's real clear in our mind and our understanding that Garth doesn't need this old body, because he has a new heavenly body. It will not be ever corruptible. And so far that is where we find our comfort."

The family held a service celebrating Garth's life and does not plan another funeral, Mark Sangree said.

"It was a good service. We had a wonderful experience, a difficult experience but one where his life, which was well-lived though short, was celebrated," Mark Sangree said. "And for that we are most grateful."

Mark Sangree said Garth died doing what he loved: outdoor adventure.

"He lived a life that he went from adventure outing to adventure outing with doing life in between, and he looked at that as part of the adventure as well," Mark Sangree said. "So it doesn't surprise me at all that he left this Earth pursuing an adventure outdoors."