Body of British 'white water kayaking legend' found in Italian lake after two-week search

The body of a British a “white water kayaking legend” has been found in an Italian lake after he went missing two weeks ago on a river in Switzerland.

Bren Orton’s body was recovered on Thursday in Lake Maggiore following “a tragic accident” on the nearby River Melezza on May 16, according to companies he was an ambassador for.

Paddle UK said Mr Orton, from Warrington, was a renowned professional kayaker known for his distinctive freestyle tricks on huge waves and waterfalls across the world.

In a statement, the national governing body for canoeing said: “Paddle UK is saddened to have learnt of the passing of white water kayaking legend Bren Orton.

“A trailblazer, Bren’s true passion was exploring and running waterfalls, capturing many of his exploits on video, shared across social media to his fellow paddlers and followers.”

Paddle UK said Mr Orton, 29, rose to prominence in 2018 after completing the descent of the Big Banana Falls in Mexico.

The 128ft fall was the second biggest descent made by a kayaker.

After starting kayaking at the age of nine following a school trip, “he fell in love with the sport, starting his global adventures by paddling on the White Nile in Uganda aged 16”, it added.

Mr Orton, who had more than 58,000 followers on Instagram, competed internationally, representing the GB Freestyle team at the 2015 World Championships in Ottawa, making the final in the men’s kayak.

In a joint statement on Friday, Palm Equipment and Pyranha Kayaks said: “It is with immense sadness that we announce that our friend and ambassador Bren Orton is no longer with us.

“It has been reported that Bren’s body was recovered yesterday in Lago Maggiore, Italy, following a tragic accident on the nearby River Melezza on May 16.

“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.

“Sending our love to our paddling family at this time.”

Ashley Metcalfe, chief executive of Paddle UK, said: “A huge loss to the paddlesport community, Bren Orton’s trailblazing achievements in freestyle and paddling adventures across the world have made a huge impact.

“Without question, he will be remembered as one of our sport’s greatest ever ambassadors.

“On behalf of our members, staff and the board of Paddle UK, I would like to send my condolences to Bren’s family, friends and fellow paddlers.”

Orton, who competed on "huge waves and waterfalls across the world", disappeared while kayaking in the Melezza - described online as a "42km Alpine torrent".

He was a professional kayaker and competed internationally, announcing himself on Facebook as a "happy ginger dude".

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