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Limited police search continues for missing kayaker

A Suffolk County police officer checks Lake Ronkonkoma

A Suffolk County police officer checks Lake Ronkonkoma Sunday morning on Aug.17, 2014, for missing kayaker Kevin Conley, who was last seen Thursday. Credit: James Carbone

Police conducted an hourlong search Sunday for the missing kayaker presumed drowned in Lake Ronkonkoma, marking the fourth day police looked for the Sound Beach man without recovering his body.

Officers with the Suffolk police marine bureau took a police boat out from the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park beach on the Brookhaven side of the lake at 10:30 a.m. They conducted a grid search on the surface of the lake before speeding around it to kick up waves hoping the body of Kevin Conley, 40, would surface, police officials said.

Police will come back for "sporadic searches" as resources allow, according to a Suffolk police spokeswoman.

Conley's father, Harold, said in a phone interview: "I guess it's pretty deep, that lake, but I thought they would've found him by now."

Dale Spencer, curator at the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society, said the lake is 65 or 70 feet deep in the spot where witnesses said Conley disappeared.

Residents, some with binoculars, came out Sunday morning to survey the lake.

Conley overturned in his kayak shortly before 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said the kayaker's life vest slipped off and he went under, police said.

The report triggered a search, which included divers from at least seven fire and police departments. Suffolk police divers recovered the kayak Friday.

"It looked like Vietnam. Three choppers, five boats," said Jason Norman, 40, of Lake Ronkonkoma.

He came out Sunday with others to see if the body had been recovered.

"If it was my family out there, I'm sure I'd want to see more than one boat," he said.

Harold Conley said Friday his son had been diagnosed with Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disorder.

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