A Virginia Beach-based Navy SEAL dies after his kayak overturns in frigid Chesapeake Bay waters about 2 miles west of Cape Charles near Cherrystone Inlet, the Navy said Thursday.
The Coast Guard recovered Petty Officer 1st Class Devon Grube on Wednesday and took him to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital in Nassawadox on the Eastern Shore, where he died from his injuries, the Navy said.
Lt. Trevor Davids, a Navy Special Warfare Center spokesman, said Grube’s death “appears to be from environmental exposure.” Water temperatures in the area were about 46 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Our deepest condolences go out the sailor’s family as we work to ensure that they have the support they need in this difficult time,” Davids said in a statement. “We thank the Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads Command Center, Virginia Marine Police, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for their assistance.”
The Navy didn’t release Grube’s age or hometown, but a 2008 Associated Press story that appeared in the Bismarck Tribune reported he’s from Cavalier, North Dakota, near the Canadian border. That story said he was 27 at the time and became a SEAL with one of his best friends from childhood, Tony Clark, who lived four doors down.
“I figured that if I was going to serve my country, I wanted to do it at one of the highest levels possible,” Grube said in the story. “It seemed like a good challenge.”
He joined the Navy in 2005 after graduating from the University of North Dakota. He had been awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, among others.
“Looking back, you can see this career is a good fit,” Grube’s mother, Kaye Furstenau, said in 2008. “Devon always lived on the edge. When he was 2 years old, he jumped into the water off the high board. He and Tony always looked for exciting things to do.”
The Coast Guard said Wednesday that watchstanders were notified at 9:20 a.m. that a man had overturned his kayak.
Watch-standers issued an urgent marine information broadcast, a 45-foot rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles launched at 9:22 a.m., and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City took off at 9:42 a.m.
The boat crew reached the scene at 9:45 a.m., and the helicopter crew at 10:45 a.m. The helicopter crew located Grube at about 11 a.m. and directed the boat crew to him to pull him out of the water, according to the Coast Guard.
Grube was brought ashore and transferred to Northampton County Emergency Medical Services personnel at about 11:20 a.m., the Coast Guard said.