OXFORD, Maine — A teenage boy was killed after falling through ice while checking beaver traps Wednesday afternoon.
Joshua Wardwell, 17, of Oxford was checking beaver traps on Chapman Pond located off North Town Farm Road when he fell through the ice, according to John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service.
“He was checking traps in the beaver flowage underneath the ice,” said MacDonald.
A beaver flowage is a body of water where beavers live. MacDonald said they are usually in areas where the water is still and fairly shallow.
MacDonald said the traps, which are typically submerged in shallow water and attached to poles, can usually be seen from the water’s surface.
“If you chip through the ice, you can see if there’s anything in your trap,” MacDonald said. “In conditions like this, water usually freezes quickly and it’s fairly clear ice. But that’s not always the case. You can have snow on top obscuring the view, or the ice can sometimes be thick or rippled because there’s a lot of air bubbles in it, which makes it difficult to see through.”
MacDonald said he did not know how deep the water was where Wardwell drowned or how experienced a trapper Wardwell was.
“It’s trapping season for beaver, but we don’t know if it was for pelts or if they had become a nuisance,” MacDonald said.
Oxford police and rescue personnel responded to a call about a person in the water at Chapman’s Pond just after 2:30 p.m. along North Town Farm Road near Hebron, bringing in rescue sleds and other equipment to reach the boy.
According to MacDonald, the teen’s 15-year-old girlfriend, who was watching from shore, immediately called police when he fell through. Oxford police and fire rescue personnel joined Paris police in responding to the call, but initially had trouble reaching the boy.
Wardwell was transported to Stevens Memorial Hospital in Norway where he was pronounced dead, MacDonald said in a press release.
The Maine Warden Service is reminding residents that thin ice conditions are present and extreme caution must be used when attempting to access any body of water this time of year.
Ice thickness guidelines can be found at mainegamewarden.com.