Police are seeking the public’s help in locating an assault suspect who allegedly kayaked and then swam his way to escape, but not without leaving behind his identification.

Robert Avery Whidden, 39, of Talbot Avenue, Rockland, is wanted on charges of assault, obstructing the report of a crime, violating conditions of release and refusing to submit to arrest or detention, Capt. Daniel Davies of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

Whidden fled into the woods before police arrived after allegedly assaulting an individual on Stetsons Way in West Gardiner shortly before 7 p.m., Saturday, Davies said.

Responding officers eventually determined that Whidden had gotten hold of a kayak and paddled out onto Lake Cobbossee, Davies said.

Sheriff deputies sought the assistance of game wardens, who were patrolling the lake during the Concert on the Cobbossee.

The wardens found Whidden paddling his kayak away from the area of Stetsons Way, Davies said.

“When they caught up to him and advised him he was under arrest, Whidden exited the kayak and began swimming away, claiming he was not going back to jail and wanted to instead be shot,” Davies said.

Davies did not return calls seeking additional detail on Whidden’s criminal history.

Whidden swam to a shallow area, Davies said, where the warden’s boat was unable to follow. As he approached the shoreline, Whidden noticed sheriff deputies approaching in a separate boat, Davies said.

“Whidden was able to get out of the water before the deputies or wardens could get to him and fled the area on foot,” Davies said.

But in making his hasty escape, Whidden left behind several personal items, including his identification, Davies said.

“A subsequent search of the woods with a K-9 was attempted, but Whidden had succeeded in avoiding apprehension,” Davies said.

Police have a warrant for Whidden’s arrest but he remains at large, Davies said.

“If anyone knows Whidden’s whereabouts, they are encouraged to notify authorities,” Davies said. “Due to Whidden’s aggressive and violent behavior, authorities strongly recommend no one attempt to approach Whidden, but instead notify law enforcement immediately.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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