RANGELEY, Maine — The search for three missing snowmobilers presumed lost in Rangeley Lake depends on the weather and may not resume Monday as previously planned, according to the Maine Warden Service.
Corp. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said Sunday that the possibility of recovery efforts will be evaluated “on a daily basis,” but that weather factors could potentially delay the search for several days.
Frigid cold temperatures and high winds in the Rangeley area have hampered search efforts since Tuesday, when the wardens found evidence that the three snowmobiles had broken through thin ice. Missing since Monday night are Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China; Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus; and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield. They were last seen leaving for a ride at about 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve in Carrabassett Valley.
Searchers believe the men perished in the lake based on finding two of the men’s helmets in an area where a fourth snowmobiler, Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth, went through the ice on Monday. Her body was found later that day.
The use of side-scan sonar imagery on Thursday uncovered evidence of two snowmobiles at the bottom of the lake, and possibly a third, but MacDonald said cold temperatures interfered with the equipment. Another concern is the safety of divers, especially if they’re operating out of watercraft as opposed to a hole through the ice.
“If it’s thin ice you really can’t bring everything you need out onto the lake,” said MacDonald. “The safety of our divers is the top priority.”
Exposed water on Rangeley Lake has frozen over in recent days, but authorities said the ice there and most other waterways in Maine remains dangerously thin.
“We’ll probably need to wait until the ice gets thick enough so we can operate off the top of the ice,” said MacDonald. “At this point we’re just waiting.”