Lake Michigan paddler ‘died fighting’ after battling high waves, strong winds amid canoeing competition

Man dies Saturday after struggling with dangerous water conditions

Lake Michigan (FrankfortStation4, City of Frankfort)

FRANKFORT, Mich. – A canoeing competition held on Lake Michigan turned deadly this weekend when a racer died after falling off his boat multiple times.

According to the Michigan Canoe Racing Association, one of its members, Nick Walton, fell off his canoe several times during an unaffiliated race from Point Betsie to Peterson Beach. The Coast Guard was called when organizers could no longer see him mounting his boat. Walton was picked up by a helicopter and transported to a hospital immediately.

The Frankfort Fire Department said that they were dispatched at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday about a struggling kayaker. According to WOOD-TV, Walton was transported to Munson Hospital in Traverse City after being rescued and was pronounced dead.

The Michigan Canoe Racing Association wrote on Facebook that the air temperatures during the race were in the low 50s, the waves were big and the winds were strong.

Below is the post from the City of Frankfort Fire & Rescue:

Below is a Facebook post from Michigan Canoe Racing Association:

According to Michigan State University, Walton worked for the department of infrastructure planning and facilities since 2017 as a trades inspector. He worked with utilities throughout campus including installing and maintaining sewer storm stream and water for the entire campus.

Walton had reportedly competed in many canoeing competitions, including the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.