AUBURN, Maine — Friends of Daniel Doherty of Lewiston, who has been missing 10 days, gathered in the Rollodrome parking lot Monday morning to split up and search the banks of the Androscoggin River in hopes of recovering his body.
The 46-year-old went missing the night of April 5, leaving behind his car, jacket and some personal items by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge before presumably entering the river.
At 11 a.m. Monday, Michele Cox of South Paris met with other friends of Doherty and made search plans before leaving to pick up more volunteers.
Cox was supposed to meet Doherty at Tim Hortons coffee shop in Auburn that night when she received a call from a distraught Doherty. “He said he’d been poisoned two or three times,” Cox said. She said she tried to ask him what he meant; if he had been poisoned, taken it himself or if he was reflecting on his own character.
“He had a lot on his plate and was depressed,” Cox said, explaining that he hadn’t seen his daughter in about a year due to a custody case.
Unable to find answers, Cox contacted Julie Jones of Brewer to see if she would bring her rescue dog to search the area. According to Cox, the dog alerted to several areas where Doherty is believed to have entered the water.
Cox said the dog also responded to Doherty’s scent farther down the river, but the search had to be called off when Jones’ helper injured herself.
Undaunted, Cox gathered with seven other friends of Doherty to scour as much of the riverbanks as possible between Lewiston and Lisbon. “I’ve been trying to work and trying to do this and it’s hard,” Cox said.
Of her relationship with Doherty, she said, “We had helped each other through a lot of tough personal battles.” Cox said she has received help from people who did not even know Doherty, noting, “It’s pretty moving to have people reaching out to help me and Dan.”
Janet Farrington of Freeport and Wayne White of Lewiston began at the Second Street bridge and carefully worked their way along the bank, which was covered in burdocks and debris. Slipping into the river, sinking in mud and braving sharp thorns, the pair took an hour and a half to reach the walking bridge at Bonny Park.
At one point, a smiling and curious homeowner approached the pair, asking if they needed fishing poles. When told what they were trying to catch, he apologized and wished them well in the search.
Meanwhile, Cox contacted officer Darin Estes of the Lisbon Police Department about checking the dam. He assured Cox that he would look into it and advised her to reach out to the Topsham and Brunswick Police Departments as well.
In Lewiston, Lt. Michael McGonagle of the Lewiston Police Department gave an update on efforts there.
According to McGonagle, his department, in conjunction with the Auburn Police Department and Maine Warden Service conducted six separate searches of the river. He said the Warden Service continues to do fly-bys of the river as time permits.
McGonagle said they have used boats in the river as well as an exhaustive search of the woods along the banks of the Androscoggin River from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, where Doherty’s vehicle and jacket had been found, to beyond the Second Street bridge.
Operators of the Great Falls dam were contacted, McGonagle said, and the dam was temporarily shut down to search the grates. So far, no traces of Doherty have been found.
According to McGonagle, the Lewiston Police Department is continuing with these efforts as time goes on and is determined to find out what became of Doherty.
Correction: An earlier version reported that Michael Doherty of Lewiston went missing. It is Daniel Doherty.