Bodies of Two Teen Canoeists Found

Rescuers found two 14-year-old boys dead Monday in the Gulf of Mexico, two days after they became separated from their school group during a kayaking and canoeing trip off the coast of Florida, authorities said.

The bodies of Sean Wilkinson (search) of Acworth, Ga., and Clay McKemie (search) of Rome, Ga., were found about eight miles out from the mouth of the Suwannee River. Their overturned canoe was found about 2 1/2 miles closer to shore, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

They had become lost Saturday in choppy waters while on an outing in the area about 100 miles north of Tampa. The two were believed to have been wearing life vests.

The boys had not been seen since they set out with eight others from Darlington High School in Rome on the paddling and camping trip.

The other eight were found Sunday about seven miles offshore, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (search) spokeswoman Karen Parker.

The group had headed north in the Gulf of Mexico and intended to skirt the coastline until they arrived at Coon Island, where they planned to spend Saturday night, said commission Capt. John Burton. The group, which included several kayaks and canoes, was led by a motorized catamaran raft.

During the trip, the choppiness of the water and the inexperience of the paddlers led some boats to get separated from the group, Burton said. All but one of the kayaks and canoes tied up to the raft, as 2- to 3-foot waves developed in the gulf amid scattered rains and high winds.

A Coast Guard helicopter located those tied up to the raft early Sunday, and a rescue boat brought them to shore.