Family of drowned kayaker donates funds for life-saving equipment

Family of drowned kayaker donates funds for life-saving equipment

The family of a Winnie man who lost his life as the result of a kayaking accident in August are making an effort to help prevent future tragedies with a recent donation to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) for the purchase of life-saving water equipment. 

On Aug. 14, Chadd Burke, 23, and friends were kayaking on Spindletop Bayou in Jefferson County near Russell’s Landing on Hebert Road when his craft overturned. Deputy Ryan Warhola responded to the scene along with other officers. He located Burke, still wearing his life jacket, near the saltwater barrier on the bayou and immediately took action. He jumped into the water and grabbed Burke, pulling him to shore with the assistance of the other kayakers. Burke was unconscious and not breathing. Warhola performed CPR to no avail. 

Following the fatal accident, Burke's family started a "Go Fund Me" account online to raise funds to provide life-saving equipment to JCSO patrol deputies. Family, friends and Buna Elementary School collected just over $6,000 and donated the money to the sheriff's office. 

JCSO Deputy Marcus McLellan reported the donation allowed the sheriff's office to purchase a total of 42 auto-inflate life vests and 42 lifeline throw bags to go inside patrol units. It also paid for an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the patrol division, McLellan shared. 

"The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is grateful to the friends and family of (Chadd) Burke for making this purchase possible," he said. 

Kayaker drowns at Spindletop Bayou