Wardens find body of missing boater in northern Aroostook County

Cpl. Mike Joy (left) and Wardens Bruce Loring and Mike Pierre (in the water) during Tuesday's Blake Lake search.
Photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service
Cpl. Mike Joy (left) and Wardens Bruce Loring and Mike Pierre (in the water) during Tuesday's Blake Lake search.
Posted April 24, 2012, at 10:04 a.m.
Last modified April 24, 2012, at 6:03 p.m.
Wardens Sibley and Milligan during Tuesday's Blake Lake search.
Photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service
Wardens Sibley and Milligan during Tuesday's Blake Lake search.

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EAGLE LAKE, Maine — Warden divers recovered the body of an Eagle Lake fisherman Tuesday after he was reported missing in a boating accident Monday night.

Ronald Toussaint, 57, was found in 14 feet of water at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday in Blake Lake near the spot his boat capsized about 75 feet from shore.

According to Lt. Warden Thomas Ward, who headed up the recovery operation, Toussaint and Jason Dube, 37, also of Eagle Lake, had been fishing in Blake Lake when at approximately 6:30 p.m. their 12-foot aluminum fishing boat capsized.

Dube was able to swim to shore, Ward said, but could not see Toussaint. Neither man was wearing a flotation device, the warden added, despite having two devices on board at the time of the accident.

Blake Lake is located in a remote section of Township 16 Range 6 east of Eagle Lake and is accessible by a seasonal dirt road.

“That road is very bad right now,” Ward said. “You need a four-wheel drive to get in.”

Five wardens were on the scene Monday night searching the lake by watercraft until just after midnight, Ward said.

Ward was assisted by Sgt. Dan Menard, 13 district game wardens, eight warden service dive team members, and an aircraft flown by retired Warden Pilot Gary Dumond. U.S. Border Patrol also had personnel at the scene.

Both men were described as experienced boaters and Ward said the accident serves as a powerful message that life jackets should be worn at all times when boating, especially this time of year.

“The water temperature [in Blake Lake] right now is around 40 degrees,” he said. “When accidents like this happen there is a very short amount of time to save yourself [when] your limbs and extremities numb up and your motor skills just don’t work. Don’t just toss the life vests under the [boat’s] seat.”

Ward described the weather during the recovery operation as “very poor” with cold water and air temperatures.

“The condition of the road hampered our efforts to get in rescue equipment,” he said. “Communication was also poor as far as cell [phone] coverage.”

The exact cause of the accident remains under investigation, though Ward said it is thought one of the two men may have stood up in the boat, causing it to capsize.

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