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Beachgoers unable to revive overboard kayaker off Honeymoon Island

DUNEDIN — People on shore saw Patrick G. Willoughby set off in his kayak Sunday afternoon, a boater paddling under clear skies off Honeymoon Island.

But something — investigators don't know what — happened to the 52-year-old on the water.

Pinellas County deputies said beachgoers walking along the shore saw Willoughby's kayak adrift without a pilot. His body was floating nearby.

Deputies said the people on shore pulled Willoughby, from Safety Harbor, onto the beach, began performing CPR and called 911.

Paramedics arrived, but could not resuscitate him.

Deputies said the death is not suspicious, but the cause is unknown and will be determined by the medical examiner's office.

Willoughby, a business development manager for home delivery at the St. Petersburg Times, was fondly remembered by colleagues as a family man who loved being on the water.

Jim Thompson, a Times operations manager and Willoughby's supervisor, said Willoughby was in his element while in a kayak — an activity he often enjoyed with his wife, Kathie.

"He went kayaking just last weekend up in Citrus (County). He and his wife, they were patting the manatees as they were just coming up to their kayaks," Thompson said.

Thompson said Willoughby enjoyed a 20-year career in the newspaper business, first with the Gannett Co., then starting with the Times 11 years ago.

Thompson said Willoughby was instrumental in pushing the department's transformation in recent years, and was a "dynamic" presence in the office.

Willoughby's daughter, Megan Willoughby, said her family was shaken by the news and unable to comment at this time.

Beachgoers unable to revive overboard kayaker off Honeymoon Island 10/17/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 18, 2010 5:47pm]
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