TOWNSHIP 3 RANGE 12, Maine — A Cape Neddick man who spent two nights in the woods after becoming lost in the Chesuncook Lake region was overjoyed when wardens found him early Wednesday, one of his rescuers said.
“We got really lucky today,” said Warden Paul Farrington, who along with his black Labrador, Koda, found Frank Wallace, 72, at about 8 a.m. on the Kore Ping Road.
Farrington said Wednesday that the way the wind was blowing with his and Koda’s direction of travel, no dog likely would have picked up Wallace’s scent. Instead, Wallace heard a bell on Koda’s collar and he started yelling and Koda went to him.
“We had only been in the woods 20-30 minutes,” Farrington said. “You never think you’re going to find someone that quick. It was the luck of the draw because I was given a good area to search.”
Soaking wet, cold and covered with mosquito bites, Wallace was very pleased to see Koda, who received a pat, and Farrington, who received a hug. “He was overjoyed to be found,” Farrington recalled. “‘I’m awful glad to see you,’” he quoted Wallace as saying.
Before becoming lost, Wallace was last seen Monday afternoon at his remote camp on the north shore of Chesuncook Lake. His friend Duain Wolfe, who was staying in a camp nearby, became worried and contacted the Maine State Police when he could not locate Wallace.
While the camps are accessible only by water, Farrington said he was able to drive his truck on a woods road to about a mile from the search area and left from there on foot.
Wallace told Farrington that he went to look for mushrooms on a couple of trails he was familiar with, but became lost when he detoured around some blow-downs. Dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and shoes, he said he huddled during the night and covered himself with grass and brush to keep warm. He told wardens that his first night in the woods wasn’t too bad, but on the second night the mosquitoes attacked him. He said he had worn a hat when he left camp, but lost it during the ordeal.
“Once he became lost, he stayed on local woods roads and at one point [lay] in the four-way intersection of two roads for several hours before moving again,” Warden Lt. Kevin Adam said in a press release. “He did go off the roads several times in the woods looking for familiar places.”
“I think it was pretty fortunate he was located when he was because he was absolutely soaked, he was shivering and the onset of hypothermia was setting in,” Farrington said. The warden said he had Wallace remove his T-shirt and he gave him a flannel shirt and jacket to put on. He then led Wallace to a spot where Farrington could pick him up in his truck. Once inside the truck, Farrington said he gave Wallace a warm cup of coffee and a doughnut and then took him to Millinocket Regional Hospital, where he was treated and later released.
Farrington, who has been with the warden service for about 15 years and has participated in many searches over the years, including four in the past week, said many searches do not have such a good outcome. It is always on a warden’s mind that the longer a person is missing, the chances of survival decreases, he noted.
Adam said knowing how to stay safe in such a situation is crucial. “There are some tips for safety when you are lost,” he said. “Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. If you do become lost, find an open space and stay there where you can be spotted by an aircraft.”
Assisting the warden service during the search were the Maine Forest Service, which searched from the air in two helicopters, Maine Search and Rescue Dogs, the Maine Association of Search and Rescue, Maine State Police and The Salvation Army.