UPDATE: Search and Rescue Efforts Continue for Flathead Kayaker - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: Search and Rescue Efforts Continue for Flathead Kayaker

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The search for a Polson doctor becomes a recovery effort after Lake County Sheriff's officials say a kayak was found matching the description of his boat.

The kayaker is identified as 43-year-old Robert McDonald, a physician at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center. Lake County Sheriff's officials said the kayak found Saturday could not been confirmed as his because it had no specific identifying marks on it.

"Not knowing what he was wearing, what is itinerary was, we knew he was by himself, but we didn't know where he was going," Said Lake County Sheriff’s Office PIO, Karen Sargeant.

A lack of information on the missing kayaker made it difficult for search and rescue crews as they tried to locate him.

"It is now a recovery effort, meaning we are looking for the body," Sargeant said.

McDonald was reported missing by his girlfriend late Saturday night, just before midnight, when he failed to return home from a kayak trip on Polson Bay. A search began with two search and rescue boats and one private boat searching the lake.

"They stayed out until three in the morning,” Sargeant said.

Search efforts ended Sunday at 3 p.m. and started back up again Monday morning at 9 a.m., but this time with a new clue, from a group of boaters.

"They noticed a kayak was surfacing, they just saw a piece sticking out of the water," Sargeant said.

At about 3 p.m. Sunday a group of boaters hanging out in the water spotted the kayak in the Grinde Bay portion of the lake. They called the sheriff’s office with the tip right before the search started back up Monday morning.

Early Monday, a Lake County search boat with sonar and divers searched the Grinde Bay area of the lake. A Flathead County Sheriff's search and rescue boat searched the shoreline, near the Bear Harbor condo's, where McDonald departed from.

James Kiser, Chief Executive of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, released a statement saying "Rob is a valued member of our medical community and part of our St. Joe's family. Please keep Rob, his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers."

Dr. McDonald joined St. Joseph Medical Center in late September 2013.

Lake County Sheriff's officials say they are relying heavily on tips from the public, and ask anyone with information to call 9-1-1 or the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 883-7301.

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Officials at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson confirm the missing kayaker is a doctor at the facility.

Dr. Robert McDonald has been missing since Saturday, July 19. Sheriffs say a kayak matching the description of the one McDonald was last seen in was found yesterday, but they have not yet confirmed it was his boat.

In a press release issued Monday James Kiser, Chief Executive of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, said, "Rob is a valued member of our medical community and part of our St. Joe's family. Please keep Rob, his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers."

Dr. McDonald joined St. Joseph Medical Center in late September 2013.

The search for a missing kayaker will continue Monday on Flathead Lake, it's surrounding shores and the Flathead River, after he's been missing for more than 24 hours. Flathead County Sheriff Jay Doyle says his department will contribute watercraft and personnel in the search for Robert W. McDonald, 43, of Polson, who deputies say left from the Bear Harbor Condominiums at noon on Saturday, but failed to return home and was reported missing around midnight.

They say McDonald was in a yellow, Eclipse, cockpit kayak with a paddle that has a black shaft with white paddles with the logo "Aquaboard". Deputies say McDonald is a white male, 5'9'' tall, 185 lbs., with gray hair and blue eyes. They believe he wasn't wearing shoes or a shirt, just shorts. He was not wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device.





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