Search continues for missing fisherman on Lake Okeechobee

Dozens of private boaters using sonar and other tools to find man

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor
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Nik Kayler (right) and his wife Kelly Kayler

SOUTH BAY, Fla. - The search for a missing fisherman on Lake Okeechobee entered its third day Sunday as dozens of private boaters joined the rescue efforts.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Nik Kayler, 38, of Apopka has been missing since Thursday when he and his friend Bill Kisiah didn't check in at the designated weigh-in location at C. Scott Driver Recreational Area.

The two had planned to compete in the Costa FLW Series event, a professional bass fishing tournament. The tournament canceled its final two days to make way for the massive search.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Kayler and Kisiah were thrown overboard sometime Thursday.

Kisiah was able to get back on the boat, and he was found late Thursday when the boat came ashore. Kisiah was suffering from hypothermia and the boat was damaged when it crashed into rocks along the shore.

Richard Bowie, director of the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, one of the outside groups assisting with the search, said the lake's murky waters have complicated their efforts.

However, Bowie said many of the search vessels are using sonar and other tools to help the effort.

Bowie said the groups are also searching the shoreline for Kayler, and believe that finding him on land is the best chance for finding him alive.

The group had planned to use all-terrain vehicles to search the shore, but Bowie said that the Army Corp of Engineers did not want the ATVs near the levee.

Kayler, a military veteran, is married with a young daughter.

Kelly Kayler, Nik Kayler's wife, has posted words of encouragement to the search teams on Facebook.

"Thank you all so much for all you are doing!" she wrote. "I know you are going to find my husband and bring him home to me and our little girl. I am forever grateful!"

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