Drowned Kayaker at Pohick Bay Identified

Rescue officials were at the scene two minutes after receiving the call.

UPDATE: John R. Funk, a 58-year-old Lorton man, has been identified as the kayaker who drowned on Monday, Sept. 24 in Pohick Bay. A witness at the scene called 911 after seeing the kayak overturn and the man go under as he attempted to swim to shore. Funk was not seen wearing a personal flotation device.  

Fairfax County Police were called at 3:53 p.m., and were at Pohick Bay Regional Park at 3:55 p.m. Funk was spotted by a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue helicopter and was transported to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  

Recovered at the scene were a light blue kayak, three unopened cans of Coors Light and a fishing rod. 

No swimming signs are posted at the shoreline of the park, which is managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. "The waterbed is unpredictable. It changes constantly," said NVRPA spokesman Brian Bower to Patch. "We have about a dozen parks that we manage along waterfronts, and there are no swimming signs posted at all of them. Any time you deal with dark, open water, you're dealing with unpredictability and we have no way of knowing if there are deep holes, sharp rocks, glass or tree trunks down there."


A kayaker who was fishing on Pohick Bay Monday afternoon in Lorton has apparently drowned, according to a witness on the scene.

The witness, Bob P., who asked that his last name not be used, called 911 when he saw the man call for help.

"I saw a guy kayaking out there," he said. "The next thing you know, he rolls over and starts swimming for shore. He got about 100 yards from the shore and yelled 'help' and he never came back up."

"I was waving to him and was giving him the thumbs up to see if he was alright," he said. "He probably got stuck in the mud because right where he went down is where they found him." 

Bob P. said he was eagle-watching with his binoculars near a pier when he noticed the man. He called 911 at 3:20 p.m. He described the kayaker as white, middle-aged and heavy set. He said he saw a fishing rod protruding from the front of the kayak. 

It took approximately a half hour to pull the man to shore. A fishing rod, and three full cans of Coors Light beer were recovered at the scene.

Police spotted the man using a police helicopter. Police divers in a rubber raft, with help from the helicopter, pulled him from the water.

Lynette Purdy September 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM
This was close friend's brother I saw at 12pm yesterday, just hours preceding his death. He spoke about getting a horn to fix his truck upon leaving. John Funk was an experienced fisherman and boater with a Captains license, never married, no children, and recently retired 3 months ago. He enjoyed the water very much and was fully enjoying his new found retirement. He died doing what he loved. His parents are deceased and he left a sister and brother behind, whom loved him very much and are devastated upon learning about this tragedy. The brother had to pay to get his brother's truck out of the inbound lot and was very distraught. He leaves memories of a happy go lucky guy with a huge heart whom anyone would love to have as a friend. Hopefully, his death will serve as a reminder that water can be immensely enjoyed, but always use floatation devices and to never underestimate the power of Mother Nature in all it beauty. May the family find comfort and peace amongst friends who knew John, whether for a short or long period of time during this terrible trajedy.


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