FAJARDO, Puerto Rico — In a tragic turn of events, a vacation in Puerto Rico ended in sorrow for a Utah family after Ben Kerbs, 52, was found deceased near Fajardo’s Balneario Beach. Kerbs, who vanished while kayaking with his wife off Playa Escondida, was the subject of an intense search operation led by the United States Coast Guard and local Puerto Rican authorities.
The Coast Guard disclosed that the search commenced following an emergency call received at approximately 1:53 p.m. on Thursday. Despite the deployment of helicopters and various rescue teams, Kerbs could not be located in time. Efforts to reach him were hampered by formidable ocean conditions that pushed beyond safety limits for rescue vessels.
During the rescue attempt, two lifeguards braving the treacherous waters in an effort to save Kerbs were themselves caught in perilous conditions, necessitating an aerial rescue. According to official reports, Kerbs was later discovered lifeless, floating face-down among the reefs.
Authorities utilized drone technology to scour the coastline as part of the search efforts. Nino Correa, commissioner of the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau, expressed profound condolences to the Kerbs family and highlighted the unwavering commitment of rescue teams in such dire situations. Correa’s statement also included a caution against visiting the beaches due to high rip current risks until at least Sunday.
Echoing Correa’s sentiments, Capt. José E. Díaz, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan, emphasized the hazardous nature of the island’s water conditions, even for skilled swimmers. The lack of lifeguards on most Puerto Rican beaches underscores the importance of vigilance and prompt reporting of any distress signs to authorities.
The community has rallied around the Kerbs family, with an online fundraising campaign set up to assist with funeral expenses. This incident serves as a stark reminder of nature’s unpredictable power and the importance of heeding local warnings and conditions while enjoying coastal activities.