Investigating missing kayaker as possible hoax, Coast Guard suspending search

Kayak found, man still missing
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Update: An official with the U.S. Coast Guard has told WTOC that they are suspending the search for the reported missing kayaker, Cody Magee. There is now an investigation into the incident being a possible hoax.

The U.S. Coast Guard is working with local law enforcement agencies in the investigation.


The search continues this evening for a missing kayaker last seen Sunday night.

The wife of 38-year-old Cody Magee told investigators her husband left the Lazaretto Creek boat ramp around 8 p.m. Sunday in his 12-foot kayak, with no supplies.

According to Savannah-Chatham Metro Police, Magee's kayak has been located. A beachgoer located the vessel washed ashore near Center Street on Tybee Island on April 18th. After seeing the missing person report on the news, the man who found the kayak called the police.

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard tell WTOC that Magee is comfortable on the water, has experience in the kayak. But again, now that the kayak has been found, the search is now on for Cody Magee.

Through some digging, our newsroom uncovered that Magee was indicted following a sting operation in Effingham County last June.

He was indicted on charges of computer pornography, criminal attempt to commit child molestation and possession of firearm during commission of felony.

Through the Clerk of the Courts in Effingham County, we've learned he was due in court Monday, and now has a bench warrant out for his arrest.

As of Tuesday evening, the Coast Guard, Metro police and the Department of Natural Resources have been combing the creeks and marsh land around Tybee Island and have searched as far as 24 miles offshore.

"Because the currents and tidal patterns around the Savannah area move so quickly, the longer that we go in this type of search, the wider our search area becomes," said U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Savannah Lt. Trent Meyers. "Fortunately, because we have so many assets flying on this case right now, we're able to cover a very large portion of that search area."

WTOC caught up with a commander from the Coast Guard's Air Station Savannah to see what a search of this magnitude takes on their end.

"When we are searching such a large area, we've had to cover over 2,000 square miles of ocean looking for this young man. With that much area covered, our Coast Guard assets can only do so much. So having establish partnerships with our local first responder partners, allowed us to get a lot more done. And be able to respond to any other cases that come up at the same time," said USCG Commander John Williams. "We've got the HH-65 helicopter flying, we've got the C-130 fixed wing aircraft flying. We are using our Coast Guard auxiliary aircraft and the local police department helicopters. We are also using surface assets, Coast Guard auxiliary, Coast Guard small boats, Coast Guard patrol boats and marine rescue units as well."

Kevin Edwards has been kayaking the Lazaretto Creek -- where Magee went missing -- for about 3 years.

"I wouldn't recommend being out in the dark solo, not at all, because there's too many things that can go wrong," said Edwards. "I have seen quite a few helicopters flying around, and as a matter of fact, they even circled around me out there."

WTOC was able to track down several of Magee's former co-workers on Tuesday. Most didn't want to go on the record, but they all said Magee was an experienced military veteran.

"I'm not sure what branch he was in, but we did speak of his military background quite a bit. He's got good survival training."

WTOC spoke with a Metro police spokesman earlier Tuesday who said they are not investigating Magee in connection to those charges. He said search crews are treating this strictly as a missing person report and that the warrant doesn't change the scope of their search and rescue mission.

Magee didn't have any supplies with him when he set out from the Lazaretto Creek boat ramp Sunday night, and was last seen wearing a blue shirt and green shorts.

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