July 23, 2018
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Man dies after kayak overturns in Eastern Bay

By Bill Trotter, Special to the BDN

LAMOINE, Maine — For the second time in three weeks, a kayaker has died on a sunny Sunday in the waters of Mount Desert Island.

The man who died Sunday, July 10, is 43 years old and is from New Hampshire, according to Maine Marine Patrol. Police declined to release further details Sunday evening about the man’s identity because they were still trying to notify relatives of his death, police said.

Sgt. Jay Carroll and Officer Colin MacDonald of Marine Patrol said Sunday that the man’s kayak capsized as he was paddling with companions in Eastern Bay, between Lamoine State Park and Mount Desert Island. Why the man’s kayak capsized they did not know, the officers said.

The man had been part of a group of four kayakers, all of whom were camping together at the state park, who earlier Sunday had paddled over to Hadley Point in Bar Harbor for a picnic lunch, MacDonald said. Each kayaker was paddling his or her own kayak and had a life jacket with them but none of them were wearing any, he said.

After lunch, the four split into two groups of two and paddled off in separate directions.

MacDonald said the man and woman he was paddling with as they tried to make their way back across Eastern Bay to Lamoine were inexperienced kayakers. Waves in the bay at the time were moderately high, he said, and along with the water temperature were likely contributing factors in the incident.

According to data posted online by the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, ocean temperatures around Bar Harbor at 3 p.m. Sunday were between 60 and 65 degrees and wind speeds were around 12 mph.

MacDonald said that as the two were headed across the bay, the woman turned around and saw the man had capsized. She got out of her kayak and swam over to him to try to get him out, he said.

“It was a struggle to hold him up,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said some people sailing not far away in a sailboat realized the pair was in trouble. He said they saw the woman trying to hold the man up but that his face was in the water.

“They could hear her screaming,” MacDonald said.

The sailors were able to get to the kayakers and to pull them on board, but the man was unresponsive, police said. Police and local emergency responders were notified of the incident around 3 p.m.

Police said they were not sure what kind of kayak the man was paddling. The woman he was with was paddling a red Perception America model kayak that appeared to be about 9 feet long.

The man is the second kayaker to die off MDI since mid-June.

On June 19, Eric Hogan, 28, of Webster, Mass. drowned when strong winds pushed his sit-on-top kayak out into Frenchman Bay from Hancock Point. Hogan, on the final day of his honeymoon, had gone out paddling that morning by himself wearing only a life jacket and shorts, according to Carroll, who also dealt with that incident.

Water temperatures were between 55 and 60 degrees and wind gusts blew harder than 30 mph in Frenchman Bay on the day of Hogan’s death.

Carroll said Sunday that the wind was not blowing as hard during the latest fatality, but that weather could have been a factor. He said it would be up to the State Medical Examiner’s Office to determine whether the man drowned or died from some sort of medical condition.

“The ocean can be pretty unforgiving,” Carroll said.

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