January 14, 2013

Wardens planning to continue search for Rangeley Lake snowmobilers

By Kaitlin Schroeder

RANGELEY — The Maine Warden Service is planning to use a remotely operated underwater vehicle to continue the search for the three missing snowmobilers believed to have drowned in Rangeley Lake.

The wardens will use the remote controlled vehicle to search where the divers believe the missing men are in the lake.

The wardens were hoping the record warm weather would reopen a hole in the lake that had iced over a week and a half ago, Cpl. John MacDonald said in an email.  The wardens have now predicted the ice will not be opening back up this winter and they have moved on to the alternative plan.

The warden service previously had called off the search due to frigid temperatures and high winds. Wardens had since been monitoring the lake for an opportunity to resume the search.

Because of the large area needing to be searched, MacDonald said sonar is still the best method. Divers won’t be used until they have specific objects to investigate, he said.

Sonar used before the search was postponed revealed two, possibly three, snowmobiles in the lake where three snowmobiles are assumed to have gone through the ice last week, according to MacDonald.
The search is for Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus, his cousin Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China, and friend John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield, who were reported missing Dec. 31 and are presumed dead.

Searchers found helmets and gloves while searching for Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth, who went into the lake the night of Dec. 30 while snowmobiling with her son. Newell's body was recovered Dec. 31.

Wardens said Newell and her son, 16, drove into open water. The boy managed to jump from his snowmobile onto solid ice before his machine sank. He called 911 for help.

The accident was part of what probably was the worst snowmobile tragedy in state history. No state officials can recall when four snowmobile riders were killed in the same place at roughly the same time.

Kaitlin Schroeder— 861-9252
kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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