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Missing kayaker washes up on base

The U.S. Coast Guard said a body that washed ashore at Cliffside Park on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Tuesday morning is that of a missing kayaker, a 55-year-old Shoreline man.

Jeffrey Paul Scherling, had traveled from Shoreline to Bowman Bay on Fidalgo Island to kayak in the Deception Pass area. He was last heard from Sunday. There was activity on his ATM card Sunday at 2 p.m., according to officials.

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said Scherling’s body was found at the high tide line. High tide for the west side of Whidbey Island was at 1:43 a.m. Tuesday. According to Island County Coroner Rober Bishop, the man was reported to be good swimmer. He was wearing a life vest.

Initial reports indicated the body was that of a woman. After the Cliffside RV Park Host reported finding a body, Navy security patrolled the beach and found a kayak at Rocky Point, more than a mile south of the body. Confusion began when the contents of the kayak were searched and a prescription bottle with a man’s name was found.

Navy security is not allowed to touch a body until a coroner arrives.

Bishop isn’t sure how the gender confusion came about. The man was six-feet, four-inches tall.

“I knew it was a man when I first saw the body,” he said.

After photographing and filming the scene, Bishop inventoried clothing and found a driver’s license that identified the body as Scherling’s.

Bishop said he noticed no obvious trauma or injuries. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

This is not the first time a body has washed ashore at that beach.

“It’s the second time I’ve been called there,” Bishop said. “Both were within 100 yards of each other.”

On Feb. 11, 2000, the body of Russ Kunkel came ashore there. That is still an open case with the Island County Sheriff’s Department.

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