February 26, 2013

Wardens will resume search for Rangeley Lake snowmobilers Wednesday

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

RANGELEY — The Maine Warden Service will resume the search Wednesday for three snowmobilers believed to have died in Rangeley Lake in late December.

click image to enlarge

Two Maine Warden Service air boats head out on the ice on Rangeley Lake in Rangeley in this January file photo to the location where snowmobiles went through the ice on Dec. 30. One body has been recovered and three other riders are presumed drown. Harsh weather has impeded recovery efforts.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

In this photo provided by the Maine Warden Service, wardens begin recovery operations for the three missing snowmobilers presumed to be in Rangeley Lake, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, in Rangeley, Maine. (AP Photo/Maine Warden Service)

The warden service will use a remotely controlled vehicle and divers will be on standby if any of the men’s bodies are discovered, spokesman Cpl. John MacDonald said in a news release Monday.

The snowmobilers, Ken Henderson, 40, of China, his cousin Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus, and friend John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield, were reported missing early Dec. 31.

Searchers retrieved the body of a fourth snowmobiler, Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth, shortly after she rode her snowmobile into open water, which was hours before the others were reported missing.

The search was initially postponed in early January because of frigid temperatures and high winds on the open section of the lake. The search tactics changed when the lake froze, but the search was again delayed because the ice was too thin to hold the people and equipment needed to use the remotely operated underwater vehicle.

MacDonald said at the time that the wardens would resume the search using the underwater vehicle, known as an Outland 1000. It is a tethered unit controlled from the surface with 500 feet of cable. MacDonald said it has a grabber arm attachment, two cameras and two LED lights, as well as obstacle avoidance sonar.

The area of the lake being searched is at least 100 feet deep, MacDonald said. Divers will be used when they have specific objects to investigate, he said.

He said the warden service also will update the media at that time on the progress of the search.

Searchers initially found helmets and gloves while searching for Newell, who went into the lake the night of Dec. 30 while snowmobiling with her son. Her 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, officials have said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

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