Official: Man swept off Maine island believed dead

Posted Sept. 11, 2011, at 5:18 a.m.

MONHEGAN ISLAND, Maine — The Coast Guard has turned a rescue mission into a recovery mission for the body of a 33-year-old Irishman swept off rocks while visiting Monhegan Island for a wedding.

Coast Guard Lt. Colleen McCusker said Saturday that Thomas Clarke, an Irish national, is believed dead. She said the Coast Guard continued to look for his body.

Clarke had walked to Norton Ledge to explore a cave Friday afternoon when a wave churned up by Hurricane Katia knocked him into the water. Four others tried to save him but lost sight of him. Three made it back to shore and a fourth was rescued.

McCusker said the group was part of a wedding party.

Despite not hitting land, the Category 1 hurricane generated large swells along the coast.