SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Two young women who set off for an afternoon of kayaking while dressed in shorts and light shirts in Maine’s Casco Bay never made it home after falling into wind-swept 48-degree waters.
The bodies of 18-year-old Irina McEntee and 20-year-old Carissa Ireland were found Monday morning about 3½ miles south of Cape Elizabeth, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Officials said McEntee was from Hoschton, Ga., while Ireland was from Rochester, N.Y.
The pair left Peaks Island, which is part of the city of Portland, early Sunday afternoon and paddled to uninhabited Ram Island about a mile away. They were last spotted on Ram Island by a caretaker on a nearby island and by McEntee’s parents, who could see the pair from their summer home on Peaks Island, said Maine Marine Patrol Sgt. Daryen Granata.
“They saw them from the house. They saw them get on the island, but they didn’t see them after that,” Granata said.
McEntee’s parents called the Coast Guard at about 5:30 p.m. when the women didn’t return, setting off an all-night search that included a Coast Guard jet and helicopter, several Coast Guard cutters and smaller boats from other agencies.
The women’s kayaks were found about 8 p.m. Sunday and their paddles were discovered Monday morning. After searchers found their bodies at about 9 a.m., they were flown by helicopter to Maine Medical Center where they were pronounced dead, said Coast Guard Cmdr. Brian Downey.
Winds on Sunday afternoon were blowing at 22 mph at a buoy near Ram Island and a small craft advisory was in effect, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Hawley.
The waters off Maine are still cold this time of year even when the air temperatures are warm, said Downey.
“Survivability is very short in that type of water condition,” Downey said.
The Coast Guard initially said Ireland was from Ukraine, but Granata said she is from New York and that her parents are living in Ukraine working as missionaries.