Senior Editor
Body of Professional Kayaker Bren Orton Found in Switzerland

Bren Orton’s YouTube channel, Senders, is well worth the watch. Photo: YouTube

The Inertia

In somber news that had delayed closure for those closest to him, professional whitewater kayaker Bren Orton was found in Lake Maggiore, Switzerland two weeks after he’d gone missing. Orton – an influential video producer who ran the YouTube channel Senders – disappeared May 16 on the Melezza River in the Ticino Region of Switzerland.  His kayak sponsor, Pyranha, which also posted about his disappearance, posted again after Orton’s body was found. 

“It is with immense sadness that we announce that our friend and ambassador Bren Orton is no longer with us,” the brand wrote. “It has been reported that Bren’s body was recovered yesterday in Lago Maggiore, Italy, following a tragic accident on the nearby River Melezza…The outpouring of love and support from the paddling community since Bren went missing has been extraordinary. This support has been a profound source of strength for all of us, especially for his family and close friends.”

Orton had been paddling with other expert whitewater kayakers in the region before the accident, including Italy. According to reports, he and a group were on the Melezza with substantial water flow in the river. Orton was stuck in a hole or large river hydraulic. He disappeared.

Intense searches followed by both the local authorities and the paddling community. The Ticino Region in southern Switzerland is rich in steep, Class V creeks. The Melezza eventually empties into Lake Maggiore, not far from the Italian border. A local boater apparently found the British kayaker’s body.

“Shortly before 1:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) in Locarno, the lifeless body of the man who disappeared on May 16 while kayaking in the Melezza was found in the waters of Lake Maggiore,” read a statement from the Ticino Police. “The alarm was triggered by a sailor who found the body in the water and immediately notified the emergency services.”

Orton was a gifted whitewater kayaker with an extensive freestyle background that had helped shape his career in the Class V (aka “extreme”) kayaking realm. Kayakers at the highest level of the sport mourned his loss this month.

“Thirteen years, 17 countries, and not a single second together was time wasted,” wrote Dane Jackson, arguably the world’s best all-around kayaker. “I look back on some of the best times of my life and so little of it I didn’t have you with me. As long as we were together, it didn’t matter where or what we were doing, it was going to be the best time….You were the best on and off the water, your creativity and motivation inspired me and so many others, and will continue to do so. I am grateful for the joy you brought to my life, and everyone else around you. Your laugh continues to echo in my head, and it will forever. Our time together started simply as competitors, but it ends as brothers. I will miss you so much, now and forever. Love you buddy.”

Orton’s infectious personality and all-around talent as both an athlete and producer stood out in his tributes. You can see more of his work, here. 


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