ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Disappearing sunlight Friday evening forced park rangers and volunteers to suspend a search for an Ellsworth man whose car was found Wednesday morning near a trailhead, according to a park official.
Park officials and volunteers have been searching during daylight hours for the past three days, ever since it was realized Timothy Philpott’s car had been parked overnight near the trailhead on Route 198 near Northeast Harbor.
John Kelly, spokesman for the park, said Friday evening that park officials do not plan to resume the search over the weekend. Bad weather forecast for Saturday will make conditions difficult, he said, and the predicted frozen precipitation is expected to cover up whatever traces of Philpott’s tracks might be in the park.
“There’s going to be a day-by-day assessment,” Kelly said about resuming the search.
He added that, given the length of the search so far and the low temperatures over the past several days, park officials are not optimistic about rescuing Philpott.
“It’s very unlikely anyone could be found [at this point], Kelly said. “The odds of him being found alive, though it is not being ruled out, are diminishing.”
Philpott, 50, was last seen about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday in Ellsworth, according to a prepared statement released late Friday afternoon by Acadia officials. Rangers began searching for him about 9 a.m. Wednesday, after park maintenance staff noticed his car had been left overnight at the Parkman Mountain parking area near Northeast Harbor.
Backcountry overnight camping is not allowed in the park, which is why park personnel became concerned, Kelly said.
In the winter, the only place overnight camping is allowed in Acadia is at Blackwoods Campground, about 4 miles away as the crow flies from where Philpott’s vehicle was found.
On Wednesday, rangers checked around the immediate area of the Parkman Mountain parking lot and were unable to contact Philpott by phone, according to the release.
On Thursday, rangers searched hiking trails around Parkman and Sargent mountains with help from volunteers with Mount Desert Island Search & Rescue. Park rangers also contacted the Maine Warden Service, which provided an airplane to assist in the search.
On Friday, more than 25 volunteers and several search dog teams joined the effort, with the warden service helping to coordinate the response, according to the release. Both the warden service and state forest service provided aircraft Friday to help look for signs of Philpott.
Kelly said park officials have some leads about where Philpott may have gone in the park after parking his car, but he declined to provide additional details. He said that even though the search has been suspended, rangers are continuing to investigate the situation.
Anyone who may have been hiking in the Parkman Mountain area on Tuesday or who may have information is asked to call the park’s ranger office at 288-8791.