MILBRIDGE, Maine — The Maine Marine Patrol on Wednesday discovered the body of one of two brothers missing off Bois Bubert Island in Pigeon Hill Bay, leaving many in the town reeling.
Lt. Alan Talbot of the Maine Marine Patrol identified the brothers as Alton Jellison, 44, and Jack Jellison, 43. He would not confirm which body was discovered.
The two had gone to the island Saturday night for a weekend getaway. Their capsized skiff was found near the body.
Talbot said the men had gone to the area in a larger boat and were using the skiff to get to the island. Talbot said it is unknown whether the men went into the water when they arrived or when they were leaving.
The capsized skiff was found in the island’s surf line, according to Coast Guard Chief Duty Officer Robert Albert, and the body was found in the water near the shoreline of a cove on the southeast shore of the island.
Albert said the water temperature Wednesday was 41 degrees. Neither man was wearing a life vest.
Although there are several islands to the north and south of Bois Bubert, the search was being conducted “in the area of most probable likelihood,” he said.
The Coast Guard launched a 27-foot boat from Jonesport and sent a rescue helicopter from Cape Cod.
Local fishermen were assisting in the search, which covered area waters and the island itself, locally called “BoBear,” to determine if the brothers ever made it to a small shack that is used for overnight visitors or if they capsized upon their arrival, Talbot said.
The Maine Marine Patrol, Coast Guard and Maine Warden Service were searching jointly.
Talbot said the Marine Patrol was notified Wednesday morning that the Jellisons had failed to return from a trip to the island.
“They left last Saturday and were planning on just hanging out at the island,” Talbot said. They were expected to return Monday.
“We were notified this morning that they were overdue and engaged a sea search,” he said.
Kandi Robertson, a local woman, said many were hugging and kissing each other in grief at the town’s grocery store Wednesday, trying to understand the tragedy.
“This is a small town,” she said. “Our hearts are very, very heavy.”
Milbridge Town Manager Lewis Pinkham said, “This is a tragedy that no community wants.”
He called the Jellisons “two very hard-working young men.”
Laura Newenham at the Milbridge Gulf station and convenience store said many people were handling the tragedy with silence.
“They are being pretty quiet, just keeping to themselves,” she said.
Talbot said the recovered body was taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta for autopsy.
He said the search was expected to continue until dark Wednesday and to resume today.