rb kayak safety 112414One of the signs that Joan Civile has offered to the town as part of a campaign inspired by the death of her son, David, below. (Click to enlarge)


david civileFour years after a Tinton Falls man disappeared while kayaking in the Shrewsbury River off Little Silver, his mother is on a campaign to ensure nothing like that happens again.

David Civile was 26 years old, “in great shape,” and excited about the kayak he’d purchased just three weeks earlier, his mother,¬†Joan Civile, told the Red Bank council Monday night. The November morning that he put in at Little Silver Point Road, he’d just purchased waterproof pants.

“He just thought he was safe,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Mom, I’m in a river. If it’s bad, I’ll just come back.'”

But he didn’t. The winds picked up suddenly that afternoon, and Civile went missing, triggering an extensive, multi-day search that involved state and local police as well as the Coast Guard. Civile’s kayak turned up near the uninhabited Sedge Island, which lies between Sea Bright and Rumson on the Shrewsbury River. But two years passed before his remains were found.

Now, Civile’s parents, who live in Cranford, have formed a foundation in his memory: the David P. Civile Foundation for Boating Safety Awareness. Its goals, Joan Civile said, include raising awareness among users of non-motorized vessesl such as kayaks and canoes of the sometimes unpredictable conditions they may encounter on the water, and the importance of life vests.

“I’ve even had people say their dog wears a life vest, but they don’t” when out on the water, she said.

The foundation has paid for warning signs to be posted at launch spots, and Civile has visited local governments to have them installed. So far, the signs have been accepted in Little Silver, Fair Haven, Rumson, Monmouth County Parks as well as Long Branch and Point Pleasant, she said.

Red Bank officials accepted one of the signs Monday night, and will now discuss where it and others might be placed. Among the spots discussed were Maple Cove, which is heavily used by kayakers, and Marine Park.