September 14, 2013

After two rainy nights, 86-year-old Benton man found alive

Arthur Wakeman was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville, where officials said he was resting comfortably.

By RACHEL OHM Morning Sentinel

BENTON — An 86-year-old man who was missing for two stormy nights in the woods near his home was found alive Friday morning, soaked but alive.

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Maine Warden Service Chaplain Kate Braestrup crouches on the ground next to 86-year-old Arthur Wakeman after he was found about 1.2 miles from his Benton home Friday.

Maine Warden Service photo

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Arthur Wakeman is shown in an old photo.

Photo courtesy of Maine Warden Service

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Arthur Wakeman was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville, where he was resting comfortably, said hospital spokeswoman Sara Dyer in a news release. No other information about his condition was released.

Wakeman was found by Deborah Palman, president of the Maine Association of Search and Rescue, and her dog Quinn around 9:30 a.m. He was lying on the ground about 1.2 miles from his home at 344 E. Benton Road.

"The last few days were very concerning, especially with the rain," said Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service at a news conference Friday. "We were concerned about his physical well-being and felt that our time to find him was limited."

About 65 searchers from the Maine Association of Search and Rescue, Maine State Police and the warden service were involved in the hunt for Wakeman, who was last seen at his home about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

About 2 inches of rain had fallen in the area since Wednesday, with severe thunderstorms, damaging wind and hail.

Temperatures in the area were in the 80s Wednesday and in the 60s Wednesday night. On Thursday, temperatures were in the low 70s and dropped to the low 50s at night.

Wakeman is forgetful but is in good physical condition, Adam said during the search.

Palman, 59, a retired warden, had been out with her dog, a 7-year-old German shepherd, since around 7:15 a.m. Friday. She said she found Wakeman lying on his back in a depression about 30 feet from the snowmobile trail they were following.

Wakeman was soaked from the rain and looked like he had been lying there awhile, she said. He was conscious, but did not speak.

"I was calm and went over to check him out and see if he was breathing. It wasn't obvious at first that he was alive," said Palman.

She said Wakeman didn't react and it took him a while to wake up and open his eyes.

"Any time anybody is found, it's a success. I'm very glad to see the search over," said Palman.

Adam said that after an initial search within a quarter-mile radius of Wakeman's home, searchers expanded to a three-quarter-mile radius and then beyond that. The rain made the search difficult, flooding the woods and erasing tracks that Wakeman may have left, said Adam.

There were two reported sightings of Wakeman during the search, including one by a UPS delivery driver who saw him walking along East Benton Road on Wednesday evening, Adam said.

"That's not atypical in this sort of scenario," he said. "People may be out walking for their health and they are seen on the road, but then they make a wrong turn or a wrong decision at an intersection, even if it is a road they walk every day."

Adam said, "I was worried we might find him and he might not be alive," said Adam.

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Rescuers takes Arthur Wakeman, 86, out of the woods near his Benton home on Friday.

Maine Warden Service photo

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Searcher Deborah Palman and her dog Quinn found 86-year-old Arthur Wakeman about 1.2 miles from his Benton home on Friday. She is a retired game warden and current president of the Maine Association for Search and Rescue.

Maine Warden Service photo

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Deborah Palman and her dog Quinn found missing Benton resident Arthur Wakeman.

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