A Phippsburg man who became severely hypothermic after falling into water on the Appalachian Trail was rescued early Sunday morning.
Christopher J. Lebel, 38, was hiking with his dog south on the Appalachian Trail in Township E on Saturday, when 4 miles into his trek he fell into water, according to Mark Latti, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Lebel changed into dry clothes, but he couldn’t warm himself and became “severely hypothermic” with temperatures hovering below freezing, icy winds blowing and ice and snow still covering the ground, Latti said Sunday evening.
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Lebel texted a friend, who then called 911 about 9:42 p.m. to report that Lebel was in trouble.
When rescuers found him, Lebel was unable to walk. After warming next to a fire and getting food and hot liquids, Lebel could walk out of the woods to a waiting ATV about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Latti.
“Lebel did not have appropriate clothing or hiking gear for this time of year,” Maine Game Warden Sgt. Scott Thrasher said. “Had Lebel been unable to send a text for help, it is unlikely he would have survived the night in the woods.”
Township E is south of Rangeley in Franklin County.