Man dies in kayaking accident on Yakima River

Man dies in kayaking accident on Yakima River

Kittitas County deputies and Fire & Rescue crews recovered a 60-year-old Everett man’s body in the Yakima River on Tuesday.

Charles Lackey had been kayaking on the river with his wife Cathy about 12 miles south of Ellensburg.

He fell out and started trying to swim to shore near the Umptanum Recreation area. His wife was already on shore at the place where they planned to stop for lunch.

Deputies were told Lackey was wearing a life jacket, but he took it off as he prepared to paddle toward her.

His wife saw him grab a branch in an effort to exit the river, which caused him to capsize. She got back into her kayak in an attempt to help him, but was not able to find her husband.

Another group that was rafting found the man near the “Smiley Face” rock painted downriver. He was brought to shore unconscious.

Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue personnel tried to revive him but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It is our understanding that this trip was the couple’s vacation to celebrate Mr. Lackey’s recent retirement. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they cope with this tragedy,” said a spokesperson with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies are encouraging people to wear life jackets and stay vigilant in identifying and avoiding potential hazards while moving on the water. For more resources visit