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Officials discuss Old Saybrook, Groton water searches

May 29, 2018

Old Saybrook — Crews on Tuesday continued their search for William Zadrozny, an 18-year-old who went kayaking Monday afternoon but never returned.

During a press conference, Capt. Keith Williams of the State Environmental Conservation Police said Zadrozny likely launched from North Cove, which is on the western side of the Connecticut River and shares a border with North Cove Road. Williams said officials found Zadrozny’s car in a parking lot near the cove.

Cmdr. Andrew Ely, who is the chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, said a self-locating data marker buoy helped officials develop a relatively small search area — it extends from Niantic Bay to the Clinton area.

Members of several departments are assisting in the search, which began after a good Samaritan found an overturned kayak about 5 p.m. Monday. A life jacket and fishing gear were in the kayak.

Searchers are using boats, a helicopter and a plane.

Williams and Ely, saying they were still gathering information, declined to say where Zadrozny is from.

“We are going to continue to work until we feel we have thoroughly searched as well as we possibly can,” Ely said.

The men also addressed questions about the search for Spencer Mugford and Sofia McKenna, which the Coast Guard suspended Monday night.

From social media posts, officials determined Mugford, 20, and McKenna, 21, were on a boat belonging to the University of Connecticut - Avery Point. They initially thought the pair was on a paddleboard.

Southold, N.Y., police officers found the blue-and-white sailboat, mastless, near Orient Point in Long Island Monday night. Authorities there said no one had walked up from the beach.

On Tuesday, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said Mugford enrolled as a freshman on Aug. 28 last year. He was a student through April 20 this year, at which point he withdrew from the spring semester.

Reitz said McKenna is not listed as having attended UConn.

On Facebook, McKenna’s mother, Michelle, described her daughter and Mugford as friends. She didn’t say how they came to know each other.

During the conference, Ely said the decision to end the search was “challenging.” He said the Coast Guard looks at the probability it will find an object or a person and considers factors related to survival, including water temperature.

Williams said the water temperature in the area was 56 degrees Tuesday morning and probably was similar Monday afternoon.

“It’s never easy to suspend a search,” Ely said. “We treat every search like we’re looking for our own.”

Williams pointed out that state law requires boaters not only to have a personal flotation device on board, but also to be wearing it until May 31.

“With temperatures like today, when it’s close to 80, people feel comfortable,” he said. They don’t realize “what will happen when they hit water temperatures of 50 degrees. It takes a toll on the body very quickly.”

Ely estimated the average person could last 20 hours in those conditions.

“Obviously this weekend has been a tragic weekend,” Williams continued. “But we’re really trying to drive the message home: wear life jackets. It can save your life.”

Williams said EnCon police handled five boating crashes from Greenwich to Stonington over the weekend. He and Ely said the crashes and simultaneous searches strained resources.

“I think that’s one of the reasons that partnerships are key,” Ely said. “Within this region and along the shoreline, the marine units work well together. We get together and plan exercises so we’re prepared for events like this.”

l.boyle@theday.com