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UPDATED: Body of missing North Hampton kayaker found in Squamscott River in Stratham

Union Leader Correspondent

June 25. 2013 5:58PM
Crews search for missing kayaker Ann Colcord near a boat ramp on the Squamscott River in Stratham Tuesday morning. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

STRATHAM— Dive teams recovered the body of a kayaker from North Hampton Tuesday morning after she disappeared while kayaking on the Squamscott River.

Fish and Game Lt. Michael Eastman said the body of Ann Colcord was found just before 11:30 a.m. in water about 10 feet deep in the area near a boat ramp off Chapman's Landing where her capsized kayak was discovered.

Local authorities began the search for Colcord Monday night after she failed to return home.

Boats from the Marine Patrol and others concentrated their search in the area of the launch off Route 108 where Colcord's vehicle was found.

Colcord, who Eastman said was in her 60s, was first reported missing to the North Hampton Police Department around 9 p.m. Monday when her family became worried.

Colcord, who was known to kayak often in the area of Chapman's Landing, was the wife of retired North Hampton fire Lt. Jim Colcord.

Eastman said Colcord had been kayaking with a friend earlier on Monday at Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham and at some point arrived at Chapman's Landing to kayak alone.

Authorities aren't sure how the accident happened. Eastman said it appears that Colcord either got out of the kayak or fell out and may have been "overcome by the tide or some other natural event."

The water temperature was between 60 and 70 degrees when her body was found, he said.

The depth of the water in the area where the kayak was found is about 9 to 12 feet at low tide, Eastman said. It's believed Colcord was likely kayaking at low tide.

Eastman said there is nothing to indicate that Colcord suffered from any health problems.

"In speaking with the family, nothing indicates that she was in poor physical health or mental health," he said.

While Colcord may have been kayaking around the time strong thunderstorms rolled through the area early Monday evening, Eastman said he doesn't believe the storms were a factor in the death.

The overturned kayak was found about two-tenths of a mile from the boat ramp around 1:30 Tuesday morning. Eastman said a life preserver was found with the kayak.

"Just like seatbelts, they only work when you have them on. It's my understanding that she did have one with her, but it was not on," Eastman said.

The tidal water posed some challenges for searchers as the water can become muddy, creating conditions that resemble diving in "chocolate milk," Eastman said.

"Divers had a hard time even seeing how much air they had expended due to the fact that even though they put their air gauges up to their masks they couldn't read them. That's pretty much how bad it was," he said.

The state medical examiner's office arrived at the scene and is expected to perform an autopsy to confirm the exact cause of death.

Eastman said there is nothing to indicate foul play.

Colcord's husband, children and their spouses gathered at the scene.

"Like any other family that lost a mother or a spouse, they're very distraught and our hearts go out to them," Eastman said.

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