Last week, at the 2018 Costa FLW Series bass tournament on Lake Okeechobee, Florida, two tournament anglers went missing on Thursday, January 4th, the first day of competition. The boater, Bill Kisiah, was found alive that night clinging to his damaged boat which drifted ashore. Unfortunately, Nik Kayler, the co-angler was not with the tournament boat and the extensive search of the lake continued. On Wednesday, January 10, six days after the accident, Nik was discovered by a commercial vessel.
An official statement from the FWC was released Wednesday afternoon:
On Thursday, January 4, William Kisiah (DOB 4/9/1966) of Slidell, LA and Nicolas Kayler (DOB 1/1/1980) of Apopka, FL departed the C. Scott Driver boat ramp located on the Kissimmee River in Okeechobee, Florida aboard a 21’ Ranger Bass Boat. Preliminary information indicates that the vessel encountered rough waters and struck a wave and Mr. Kayler was ejected from the vessel. Mr. Kisiah made landfall at the Pahokee Marina later that evening when he made contact with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Numerous agencies, including the FWC, United States Coast Guard, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office were involved in the search for Mr. Kayler.
Mr. Kayler's body was recovered on the morning of January 10 by a commercial vessel in the vicinity of the Clewiston water tower on the lake.
All of the members of the FWC want to express our sincere sympathies to the victims and families of the victims involved in this incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. The FWC would like to take this opportunity to remind all boaters enjoying Florida’s beautiful waterways to do so safely. Please wear your life jacket and maintain 360-degree awareness at all times while boating. For boating safety tips, please visit MyFWC.com/boating. This incident is currently under investigation by the FWC.