LUBEC, Maine — The body of a 27-year-old periwinkle harvester who had been missing since Dec. 2 was found Thursday afternoon by a man combing the beach near South Lubec Road.
Police were expected to take Kristopher Fergerson’s body to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta sometime Thursday night.
Around 2 p.m. Charles Legris was walking the beach near his home on Lower Water Street when he spotted the body, Sheriff Donnie Smith said Thursday night.
“We immediately turned the case over to the Maine State Police and the Department of Marine Patrol,” Smith said.
Police are treating the death as a drowning, the sheriff said.
Fergerson’s body was found within view of the Lubec Channel Light, known locally as the Sparkplug, where he last was seen harvesting periwinkles.
“He was in line with the Sparkplug,” Smith said.
Smith said it was too early to speculate as to why it took so long for Fergerson’s body to surface. “If he did drown right there, he didn’t go very far from where he went in the water,” Smith said.
Fergerson and his friend Dennis Knox, 47, also of Lubec were harvesting periwinkles, known locally as wrinkles, in the Lubec Channel near South Lubec Road the night of Tuesday, Dec. 2.
The Lubec Channel is popular with harvesters of periwinkles, a small, edible species of gilled snail found in coastal areas from Maine to Virginia, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Harvesting wrinkles in the dark is not unusual, because most fishermen follow the tides.Fergerson and Knox had walked to the flats off Lower Water Street in what is known as the Brownville section of Lubec.
Knox told police afterward that he and Fergerson had been picking wrinkles when the tide started to come in. He said he told Fergerson to quit and return to the car, but that when he turned around Fergerson wasn’t behind him.
Knox said that he could hear Fergerson hollering and that he believed his friend had been caught in the rising tide and had gone to higher ground to await rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Knox went to the nearby U.S. Customs office at the foot of the Roosevelt-Campobello International Bridge to summon help.
Police and volunteers began combing the beach at about 10 p.m. and continued their search throughout the night and into the next day without success.
The investigation is expected to continue today.