Seal Cove couple found dead in submerged SUV in Tremont

Posted Nov. 23, 2010, at 1 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:06 p.m.
A vehicle is recovered from the Seal Cove boat ramp on Mount Desert Island on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.  (Bangor Daily News/Bill Trotter)
A vehicle is recovered from the Seal Cove boat ramp on Mount Desert Island on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/Bill Trotter)
Maine Marine Patrol Specialist Colin MacDonald talked on his cell phone as he  walked away from the late model vehicle (in background) that was pulled from the water at  Seal Cove in Tremont late Tuesday morning. The bodies of 92-year-old Lewis Lawton and his 86-year-old wife, Inez, had been removed from the vehicle before this photo was taken. The submerged vehicle was sighted near the boat landing there around 7:30 am Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/Bill Trotter)
Maine Marine Patrol Specialist Colin MacDonald talked on his cell phone as he walked away from the late model vehicle (in background) that was pulled from the water at Seal Cove in Tremont late Tuesday morning. The bodies of 92-year-old Lewis Lawton and his 86-year-old wife, Inez, had been removed from the vehicle before this photo was taken. The submerged vehicle was sighted near the boat landing there around 7:30 am Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/Bill Trotter)
A late model Chevrolet Equinox, covered with a tarp, was pulled from the water at  Seal Cove in Tremont late Tuesday morning. On the left is the barge that helped remove it from approximately 13 feet of water about 30 yards off the boat landing. The bodies of  92-year-old Lewis Lawton and his 86-year-old wife, Inez,  were removed from the vehicle after this photo was taken. The submerged vehicle was sighted near the boat landing there around 7:30 am Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/Bill Trotter)
A late model Chevrolet Equinox, covered with a tarp, was pulled from the water at Seal Cove in Tremont late Tuesday morning. On the left is the barge that helped remove it from approximately 13 feet of water about 30 yards off the boat landing. The bodies of 92-year-old Lewis Lawton and his 86-year-old wife, Inez, were removed from the vehicle after this photo was taken. The submerged vehicle was sighted near the boat landing there around 7:30 am Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/Bill Trotter)
Jesse Bowden, left, of Tremont jumped from a center console boat operated by co-worker Don Graham of Trenton as they returned from removing moorings near Seal Cove early Tuesday afternoon. A few hours earlier, the men, who work for Manset-based Chalmers Enterprises, helped others remove a  2011 Chevrolet Equinox that was submerged in 13 feet of water near the boat landing Tuesday morning. The bodies of 92-year-old Lewis Lawton and his 86-year-old wife, Inez,  were found in the vehicle which was sighted under the water  (a few feet to the left to the  white lobster boat in the photo) around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Jesse Bowden, left, of Tremont jumped from a center console boat operated by co-worker Don Graham of Trenton as they returned from removing moorings near Seal Cove early Tuesday afternoon. A few hours earlier, the men, who work for Manset-based Chalmers Enterprises, helped others remove a 2011 Chevrolet Equinox that was submerged in 13 feet of water near the boat landing Tuesday morning. The bodies of 92-year-old Lewis Lawton and his 86-year-old wife, Inez, were found in the vehicle which was sighted under the water (a few feet to the left to the white lobster boat in the photo) around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)

TREMONT, Maine — Police are investigating the deaths of an elderly man and woman who were found together Tuesday morning in a submerged sport utility vehicle in the harbor of Seal Cove.

The deceased couple found in the Chevrolet Equinox were Inez Lawton, 86, and her husband, Lewis Lawton, 92, Maine Marine Patrol officials said later Tuesday afternoon. They lived down the road from where their bodies were found.

The grisly scene was discovered around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Colin MacDonald, a specialist with Maine Marine Patrol. He said marine workers who were headed out to remove moorings from along the nearby shore on Blue Hill Bay saw the vehicle underwater and notified police.

MacDonald said police are not sure how long the SUV had been in the water. By the time police arrived, the tide had come in, obscuring its visibility, he said.

“The tide had come in quite a bit. You couldn’t see anything,” MacDonald said. A Marine Patrol diver was called to the scene and was able to locate the SUV with the couple inside.

MacDonald said the bodies were being taken to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta for autopsies. The vehicle also will be inspected to determine if any mechanical problems may have caused it to go in the water.

No one was at the Lawtons’ residence at around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The lights were out and no vehicles were in the driveway.

Resident Jesse Bowden, an employee of Chalmers Enterprise in Southwest Harbor, said Tuesday afternoon that he had been removing moorings from in front of a nearby home when someone else first spotted the SUV. When Bowden looked into the water he said it was obvious right away that someone was inside the submerged SUV. An arm was sticking out the driver’s side window, he said.

“It was weird,” Bowden said.

Bowden’s co-worker, Trenton resident Don Graham, said the windows of the vehicle appeared to be tinted, which prevented anyone from seeing who might be inside.

Bowden said police enlisted the mooring workers, who were using a barge with a crane to lift the heavy concrete blocks out of the water, to get the vehicle out.

The car was approximately 30 yards off the end of the dock, facing away from the ramp, when it was found, Bowden said.

The crew used the crane to lift the car off the bottom and then to pull it floating through the water to the ramp, Bowden said. The vehicle was removed from the water at about 11 a.m.

The Chevrolet Equinox showed some signs of damage as it sat on the ramp before it was towed away on a flatbed wrecker. The glass in the top back corner of the driver’s side window, apparently coated with some type of safety material, was broken and bent outward but remained connected to the rest of the window.

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