19-year-old kayaker found dead in Elizabethtown was a Marine

Around 3:45 p.m. on July 20, people on the bank at Freeman Lake Park saw a kayaker “in...
Around 3:45 p.m. on July 20, people on the bank at Freeman Lake Park saw a kayaker “in distress," according to an Etown PD spokesperson.
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 3:37 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The search for a missing kayaker on Freeman Lake is over after the 19-year-old was found dead just before 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Chris Denham, the public affairs officer with the Elizabethtown Police Department, said Kenneth Robertson of Hardin County was found by a dive team at least 20 feet underwater. The search for Robertson’s body covered 40 acres of the 170 acre lake.

“A very methodical process as you can imagine,” Denham said. “Put a blindfold on and crawling around on your hands and knees is quite challenging in a 170 acre field. Now add water to it and it’s a very challenging task.”

Robertson was said to have been seen “in distress” on the lake by witnesses around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday. A search immediately began for Robertson after he went missing, with crews from several agencies working to find him.

“He was flailing and asking for help, asking for assistance, exclaiming he was in trouble, in need of immediate assistance,” Denham said. “Our firefighters responded quickly and did a beautiful job. They entered the water immediately after arriving and were in the area where he was last seen really within just a few short minutes.”

Denham said Elizabethtown Fire arrived at the lake just three minutes after receiving the call but Robertson had already disappeared under the water.

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“He was surrounded by both close friends and family at the time of the incident when it occurred,” Denham said. “It’s very traumatic to them and our most sincere thoughts go out to all of those affected.”

Denham said Robertson was a Marine and was known to EPD officers as a former participant in a teen police academy.

Robertson rented both the kayak and a life vest from the City of Elizabethtown, Denham said. However, he wasn’t wearing the vest because it was discovered by crews inside his kayak before his body was found.

“In this case, Mr. Robertson did have the personal flotation device, it was recovered from the kayak he was in,” Denham said. “Sadly, he was not wearing it.”

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Around 3:45 p.m., people on the bank at Freeman Lake Park saw the kayaker “in distress," according to an Etown PD spokesperson.

The Louisville Metro Police Department Dive Team, Elizabethtown Police Department, Hardin County EMS, Campbellsville Fire Department, Elizabethtown Fire Department, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Hardin County Coroner’s Office were among the agencies that helped in the search and recovery of Robertson’s body.

Freeman Lake Park has been reopened.

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