Fisherman drowns in Androscoggin River

Posted July 11, 2011, at 9:51 a.m.
Last modified July 11, 2011, at 3:03 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A 38-year-old Bath man drowned while fishing Sunday afternoon off Frye Island in the Androscoggin River, just south of Bay Bridge Landing.

The drowning was one of two reported in Maine on Sunday after a 43-year-old New Hampshire man died when his kayak capsized off Mount Desert Island.

William Clark, 38, of Bath was the subject of an intensive search by 11 agencies off Frye Island after his girlfriend reported him missing just after 3 p.m. Sunday, according to Deputy Chief Marc Hagan of the Brunswick Police Department.

Brunswick Police and Fire department rescue boats, as well as a boat from the Topsham Fire Department, responded to a report at 3:06 p.m. from a kayaker who had just rescued the Bath woman. She and Clark had been fishing on a sandbar near Frye Island, Hagan said at the scene on Sunday.

Reports indicated that the two had been fishing when Clark got a tug on his fishing line and stepped forward, apparently into the channel. He called for help and the woman grabbed his hand, which apparently caused her to lurch into the water, Hagan said. A strong current of the outgoing tide carried them away.

A female kayaker saw signs of distress and raced over. She caught sight of the woman, so she called to the woman to hold on to the kayak and she paddled her back to the island. Neither woman saw any sign of Clark.

As friends and family members stood vigil near the police command post at Bay Bridge Landing, Maine Marine Patrol planes and divers from the Maine State Police searched the area surrounding Frye Island throughout the afternoon.

Hagan said reports indicated Clark “was an inexperienced swimmer.” Life jackets were found in the boat that Clark and the woman used to get to the sandbar, but neither was wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.

At 6:55 p.m., a call came over the radio: “Topsham Marine One to command, come in: We have recovery.”

Hagan said today that Clark’s body was recovered approximately 30 feet from where he fell into the river on the Brunswick side of Frye Island.

In addition to Brunswick police and fire crews, Maine State Police divers and the Maine Marine Patrol, the rescue effort involved the Topsham, West Bath, Woolwich and Georgetown fire departments, Bath Police Department and the Maine Warden Service.

Sunday’s rescue attempt was the second in a week undertaken by local departments on the Androscoggin.

On Tuesday night, Brunswick and Topsham Police and Fire departments searched the river near recreation fields on lower Foreside Road in Topsham after a report that a fully clothed woman had jumped from an embankment.

The woman was found later that night on Stanwood Street in Brunswick, and reported that she was simply swimming in the river.

Hagan said that Sunday’s search was farther down the river than any search police have been called to in the 20 years he’s been with the Brunswick Police Department.

Information provided by the Associated Press was included in this report.

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