July 18, 2018
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State confirms ID, cause of death of MMA student found in river

Courtesy of the Breunig family
Courtesy of the Breunig family
David Breunig
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Updated:

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine Maritime Academy student whose body was recovered Friday from the Penobscot River in Bangor died of hypothermia and drowning, according to investigators. David Breunig, 21, who was last seen two months ago in Orono, apparently fell off a railroad bridge into fast moving and near freezing water.

“The [medical examiner]’s report indicated the manner of death to be accidental and that hypothermia and drowning were the cause,” Maine Warden Service Cpl. John MacDonald said Wednesday in a press release, which also noted Breunig’s body had been positively identified.

The body was spotted by someone at Sea Dog Brewing on the Bangor waterfront at about 6:15 p.m. Friday. The Bangor Fire Department recovered the body near the Veterans Remembrance Bridge, more than nine miles downstream from the railroad bridge near where Breunig was last seen.

Breunig’s mother, Elaina Breunig of Westbrook, said Tuesday that she had listed her son’s death as a drowning in his obituary, based on the known evidence earlier this week.

A junior at MMA in Castine, Breunig was visiting friends at the University of Maine when he disappeared on Friday, Feb. 26. He left a party on Crosby Street in Orono at around 11:30 p.m. to meet friends on Mill Street, according to investigators.

He was last seen walking toward the train tracks near the railroad bridge that crosses the Stillwater River and connects to downtown Orono. His phone last pinged a local cellphone tower at 12:05 a.m. Feb. 27, officials have said.

The Stillwater flows into the nearby Penobscot River and at the time of his disappearance was high, cold and fast moving.

“A large-scale land and water search immediately began for Breunig and utilized additional resources to include [Maine Association for Search and Rescue] searchers,”

MacDonald said. “The Maine Warden Service and Maine Marine Patrol continued to fly the river and utilized watercraft and hovercraft since Breunig’s disappearance two months ago.”

Maine Forest Service used helicopters and had crews on the ground, as did Downeast Emergency Medical Institute, along with volunteers who scoured the riverbanks for any sign of the missing man.

Elaina Breunig said her son’s driver’s license and wallet were found with the body recovered from the river.

Breunig is survived by his parents, David and Elaina; a younger brother, Derek, who is a freshman at Maine Maritime Academy; a sister, Danielle, who is a junior at Westbrook High School; and many friends in Westbrook, Orono and at MMA, where he was a junior studying marine engineering technology.

Visiting hours for Breunig are from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Westbrook High School, with additional time if needed. His memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Saint Hyacinth Church in Westbrook. A reception will follow.

Elaina Breunig said her entire family and David’s friends will miss her son, “who was just a great kid,” but she said what she will miss most is his future.

“I just wish I got to see the next step,” she said Tuesday from her home.


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