Wardens searching Moosehead Lake for missing man

Posted Nov. 18, 2010, at 3:18 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

ROCKWOOD, Maine — Game wardens will continue their search on Moosehead Lake today for a Rockwood man who last was seen Sunday working on a carpentry project on Sand Bar Way.

Wardens believe that James Russell, 51, kayaked across the lake to Kineo before he went missing. His kayak and backpack were found Wednesday floating off Murray Road two to 2½ miles from Kineo.

“I think somewhere on that trip something bad happened to him,” Lt. Kevin Adam of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said Thursday.

Adam said wardens plan to use sonar equipment today in an area where they believe Russell’s body may be, if in fact he did perish in the water. If Russell capsized in the middle of the channel, Adam said there isn’t much anyone can do since the lake is about 40 miles long.

Friends of Russell’s started searching for him when they realized that none of them had seen him since Sunday, according to Adam. Wardens were not told about the missing man until Wednesday.

Adam said Russell, a carpenter who moved from New York to Rockwood about six years ago, normally would bicycle to the landing and then kayak across the lake to Kineo during the summer, and game wardens and his friends think he did the same thing on Sunday or Monday. His bicycle was left at the landing.

The friends checked Kineo when they discovered Russell missing but found no indication he was there, according to Adam.

Russell was not the type to “blow off work,” Adam said. In addition, he had a cell phone with him, but he has made no calls to friends.

The wind Sunday was out of the northeast at 6 mph, according to Adam, and Russell would have faced a headwind going to Kineo. On Monday the winds weren’t too bad, and on Tuesday the lake was flat and calm, he noted.

Volunteers, friends and wardens have searched the shoreline in the area and the search will continue today, according to Adam. Volunteers are being sought to help search the shoreline on foot, he said.

Pilots with the Maine Forest Service searched from the air in a helicopter Thursday, even though it was difficult because of the wind, Adam said. The water was too rough and windy for boats, he said.

“Water searches are very difficult; there are a lot of variables,” Adam said. “When you don’t have a good starting point to begin with, that just complicates it further.”

Anyone who may have seen Russell on Sunday either on shore or in a kayak is encouraged to call the Maine Warden Service headquarters at 695-3756.

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