Yorkshire kayaker feared drowned in river

Jason Raper on an earlier kayak trip
Jason Raper on an earlier kayak trip
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Ekstremsportveko is the largest sport and music festival of its kind, and is hosted every year in Voss, Western Norway.

Jason Raper, 19, of Scarborough, who earlier this year was kayaking with a university lecturer when she drowned in a Yorkshire Dales river, was attending an extreme sports festival at Voss, in Hordaland, but went missing along the River Raundalen at 6.30pm on Saturday.

A search was stood down on Monday morning, but local police are still monitoring bridges along the river in the hope of finding him.

Mr Raper has been an enthusiastic kayaker since discovering the sport on a course when he was 13 and is a committee member of Scarborough and District Canoe Club.

Club spokesman Martin Stirling said the teenager had travelled to Norway after visiting the Alps.

He added: “They had a lot of hot weather and the rivers were extremely high.

“Mr Raper went down a stretch of the river and disappeared.

“They finished the main body of the search on Monday morning.”

Mr Stirling said that the search for the teenager had involved helicopters and dog teams.

“There is always a slim hope,” he said.

Yesterday, messages continued to be left on Mr Raper’s Facebook page.

Friends described him as an “inspiration” and said they were still holding out hope.

One close friend Alistair James, wrote: “So sorry to hear what has happened. Still hoping for the best.

“Been thinking about all the good times we’ve had over the years playing tennis and biking and all the other crazy stuff we used to do.

“You truly are a great guy and one of my best friends.

“Hope to see you soon so I can reclaim my pool title.”

A family spokesperson wrote: “Unfortunately we still have no definitive information on the tragic situation.

“The Norwegian police have informed us of their intention to wait until the weekend, until the river levels fall before resuming their search.”

Earlier this year, Mr Raper, who is a joiner, raised around £3,365 for the Great North Air Ambulance after a three-day kayak trip in memory of mother-of-one Kate Stainsby, 41, a senior physiotherapy lecturer at York St John University.

Ms Stainsby, of Swinton, near Malton, drowned in the River Rawthey, near Sedbergh, on New Year’s Day after her kayak became wedged in a 20-yard stretch of rapids.

She had spent New Year’s Eve with her partner Paul Simpson and three-year-old daughter Hannah, before she headed out to into the Yorkshire Dales with friends and fellow York Canoe Club members Ian Puckrin, Paul Kilner and Orna O’Toole.

Mr Raper, of Scarborough, was kayaking with the group on the day of the accident, but was further down the stretch of river when the tragedy took place.

Despite desperate attempts to pull her free, she was submerged for more than 10 minutes.

She was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital but was pronounced dead.

Speaking after the inquest last month into Ms Stainsby’s death, her mother Diane told the Yorkshire Post that she had lived her life to the full and died doing something she loved.

Mr Raper said before taking part in the fundraising expedition in her memory in March this year, that he wanted to raise the money because of the “phenomenal” response of the emergency services and the Great North Air Ambulance and the role they played in the rescue efforts.

A Foreign and Commonwealth spokesman said yesterday: “We can confirm that a British national has gone missing while kayaking in Norway and we are providing consular assistance to the family.”