RANGELEY, Maine — Strong winds and low temperatures forced the Maine Warden Service to suspend search efforts on Rangeley Lake for three missing snowmobilers Tuesday.
Strong winds created whitecaps accompanied by temperatures near 20 degrees, Maine Warden Service Cpl. John MacDonald said in a press release.
The warden service planned to monitor the weather throughout the day Tuesday for the possibility of resuming search efforts using airboats, aircraft and side-scanning sonar, MacDonald said. However, the search did not begin again Tuesday.
Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China; Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus; and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield left Carrabassett Valley around 6 p.m. Sunday and last were seen in Eustis.
Wardens received a call at 2:30 a.m. Monday that none of the three had returned. A search was begun in the area and “several pieces of evidence were recovered” indicating all three may have gone into Rangeley Lake, MacDonald said.
Maine game wardens on Monday recovered the body of a 45-year-old Yarmouth woman who went through the ice Sunday night on a snowmobile she was riding on Rangeley Lake.
Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth and her 16-year-old son from Durham were riding on separate snowmobiles Sunday when her snowmobile broke through the ice and into open water around 7 p.m., MacDonald said. Newell’s son’s snowmobile also began to break through the ice, but he was able to jump to a more solid piece of ice and get to shore to call 911.
Newell never resurfaced after she and her snowmobile went under water.
MacDonald said wardens recovered Newell’s body at approximately 11:30 a.m. Monday, thanks to the combined efforts of the Maine Warden Service dive team, aircraft crews and fire and rescue personnel from the town of Rangeley.
Two helmets were recovered among the evidence found in an area less than a mile from the spot where the Yarmouth woman went through the ice, said Doug Rafferty, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Rafferty said conditions on Sunday were “bad enough with the high winds, but with all the snow, there were near whiteout conditions at times.”
With the first day of ice fishing season beginning Tuesday, the Maine Warden Service said everyone should “use extreme caution when accessing lakes and ponds either by foot or recreational vehicle. Ice conditions remain very hazardous.”
BDN writer Andrew Neff contributed to this report.