Special to the Times Herald
Lake Panorama, just northwest of Panora, is the largest private lake in the state.  Ashton Maier was in a kayak in Birchfield Cove, which is the large arm that juts north in the center of this satellite photo, when he went underwater for about 10 minutes.
Special to the Times Herald Lake Panorama, just northwest of Panora, is the largest private lake in the state. Ashton Maier was in a kayak in Birchfield Cove, which is the large arm that juts north in the center of this satellite photo, when he went underwater for about 10 minutes.

June 20, 2017

The 19-year-old Grimes man who drowned Saturday at Lake Panorama was paddling his kayak behind three of his friends — all in a line — when, suddenly, he was just gone.

“They looked back to see where he was, and all they saw was that his kayak had capsized,” said Jeremy King, a state conservation officer for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources who is investigating the death of Ashton Maier.

“I have no understanding of what happened to him,” King told the Daily Times Herald.

Maier was a visitor to the private lake that day, but he was a young, athletic man who had experience paddling on water. His kayak capsized in a cove on the north side of the lake where boaters are forbidden from making a wake, and there were no obstructions in the water.

The water was about 6 or 7 feet deep in the area, and the friends were between 50 and 100 yards from shore.

The friends yelled frantically for help as Maier was underwater and out of the kayak for an estimated 10 minutes.

There were three people on a nearby shore and two kayakers across the cove who came to assist. One person from the shore retrieved Maier from the water, and one of the other kayakers gave him CPR until paramedics arrived, King said.

The call for help went out about 11 a.m.

Maier’s heart had stopped, but a paramedic was able to get it beating again before Maier was taken by a medical helicopter to a Des Moines hospital, where he died that night.

His body is undergoing an autopsy that might reveal more information about how Maier died.

His father speculated that Maier might have suffered a seizure, according to KCCI, a Des Moines television news station.

Maier was not wearing a life jacket at the time his kayak capsized — even though there was one in his kayak — and King implored people to use them.

“They don’t work unless you have them on,” King said.

Maier was a recent Dallas Center-Grimes High School graduate.