Saturday, June 22, 2024

1 of 2 missing US tourists found dead after sea kayaking near Puerto Peñasco

A United States woman who disappeared along with her husband while kayaking in the Gulf of California off the coast of northern Sonora was found dead on Sunday.

The body of Yeon-Su Kim, an academic at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, was found by a fishing boat crew southeast of Puerto Peñasco, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a family friend.

Kim’s husband, Corey Allen, remains missing.

The Sonora Civil Protection agency said Sunday on Twitter that a body had been found at Playa Encanto “with characteristics similar to one of the two missing persons.”

Playa Encanto, Mexico
Kim’s body was found by fishermen at Playa Encanto near Puerto Peñasco.

Playa Encanto is a beach about 25 kilometers southeast of Puerto Peñasco, which is also known as Rocky Point.

Kim, who was executive director of the NAU School of Forestry, and Allen, a real estate agent, went sea kayaking with their teenage daughter Lux near Puerto Peñasco last Thursday, according to the fundraising page set up by Lisa Aumack, whose granddaughter is friends with Lux.

“Very strong winds came up. Corey took his daughter to safety onshore and went back out to help Yeon-Su,” Aumack wrote. “The strong winds and currents made their return to shore impossible, and neither they nor their kayaks have been found as of Sunday morning.”

In an update posted online later on Sunday, Aumack wrote that “a local fishing boat came upon Yeon-Su’s body south and east of Puerto Peñasco.”

Another update published on Monday said that “volunteers and local authorities from the police department, fire department and military searched again throughout the day by sea, land and air to try find Corey.”

“At the end of the day … Corey still hasn’t been found,” the post said. “The weather has taken a turn for the worse, which will challenge search efforts tomorrow [Tuesday] — but we will continue.”

Aumack told The Washington Post that Kim, Allen and their daughter traveled to Mexico for a holiday over the Thanksgiving weekend. She said that other U.S. tourists and locals with boats volunteered to look for the missing couple.

“Shrimp boats were asked to search the ocean for the pair. People with ATVs offered to drive up and down the coast while scanning the sea and volunteer pilots were flying above the Gulf of California to spot the missing Americans or the kayak,” the Post reported. 

“This is a family that is well-known, much loved and respected in Flagstaff,” Aumack said. “[Kim’s death] is a loss to the entire community.”

NAU said in a statement that Yeon-Su was an invaluable faculty member” and that “her accomplishments and contributions to her academic discipline, our university’s mission and the broader community were many.”

According to her university bio, Kim completed undergraduate and masters degrees at the Seoul National University in South Korea and a PhD in forest economics at Oregon State University.

Reviews on the Coldwell Banker real estate company website said that Allen was super kind, understanding and professional” and “the absolute best realtor ever.”

With reports from CNN and The Washington Post 

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