Thursday, May 23, 2013
KENNEBUNKPORT -- Two Augusta-area men were found dead inside a lodge's sewage holding tank Tuesday, police said.
Richard Kemp, 70, of Monmouth, and Winfield Studley, 58, of Windsor, were employees of Stevens Electric and Pump Services of Monmouth and were servicing a pump Tuesday in the tank at The Lodge at Turbats Creek.
Kennebunk Police Chief Craig Sanford said there were no witnesses and it's unclear how the men ended up dead in the tank.
Sanford said the two were working alongside an employee from Kennebunk-based Nest and Sons, which was pumping the tank. The Nest and Sons employee left with a load of sewage, and when he returned 30 to 45 minutes later, the men were not there.
A lodge employee reported the men missing to police at 11 a.m.
One man's body bobbed to the surface of the tank as sewage was being pumped from it. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration official said the tank was 9 feet deep.
Sanford said the tanks can have powerful fumes, but he doesn't know what caused the deaths.
The deaths hit hard in the men's hometowns.
Longtime Monmouth Public Works Director Herbert Whittier said Kemp graduated from Monmouth Academy in 1960. Whittier said his brother went to school and graduated with Kemp, and that Whittier and Kemp had been friendly since childhood.
"He was a very nice guy," Whittier said. "I don't think he had an enemy in the world."
Kemp ran a maintenance garage at the site of the current Monmouth Kwik Shop.
Studley worked for the Augusta Sanitary District for a number of years as a supervisor in charge of maintenance of pump stations, said Dale Glidden, who retired as general manager of the Augusta water and sanitary districts. He left the district to join Stevens Electric and Pump Service in 2006.
A woman who answered the lodge phone declined to comment.
The bodies were taken to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Augusta for autopsies.
An OSHA investigator was at the scene Wednesday, and the federal agency planned to send additional personnel to inspect the tank.
Karen Billups, assistant area director for OSHA, said septic tanks are supposed to be checked for oxygen deficiency, but it wasn't clear if such a check was performed.
Kemp was had more than 20 years of experience when he was hired as an electrician's helper in 2002. Studley had worked in the business for 17 years when he joined the company in 2006, according to the website for Stevens Electric and Pump Services.
A man at the business said the owner was not available and that the company had no comment.
Hoague said he was always impressed by Studley's intelligence and his strong work ethic.
"He'd do anything to help you out," Hoague said. "He was just that kind of guy."
He said Studley enjoyed spending time outdoors.
"He was right into camping," Hoague said. "He just bought a motor home off me."
Hench reported from Kennebunkport, and Crosby and Adams from Augusta.
Betty Adams -- 621-5631