The Maine Marine Patrol resumed its search Monday for the body of a man who fell off his boat into the Androscoggin River near Brunswick on Friday, but was unable to find him.

Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said the search for Stephen Wines of Harpswell is now officially considered a recovery operation, rather than a rescue, indicating that officials do not believe Wines will be found alive.

Nichols said the chance of survival was low when Wines and his brother fell from the boat Friday night. Searchers said the water temperature Saturday was 54 degrees and there was a swift current on the tidal river, which empties into Merrymeeting Bay. Nichols said the current remained strong Monday after heavy rain fell Saturday night and Sunday.

The marine patrol did not use a plane in its search Monday because of the weather, but plans to do so when the search continues Tuesday. Nichols said the weather Tuesday is expected to be good for an air search.

Sgt. Matt Talbot of the Maine Marine Patrol told WCSH-TV that the water was rough on Monday and underwater visibility poor because the river was still “roiled up” from weekend storm. He said water levels were high which also impeded search efforts.

An extensive search of the area near where Wines was last seen was suspended about 3:30 p.m. Saturday after searchers failed to find him. The search started again at 9 a.m. Monday, with one boat going from Bay Bridge Landing to Merrymeeting Bay.

Wines, 27, of Bailey Island went missing Friday night after eyewitnesses reported that he fell from a 10-foot boat that he and his brother, 30-year-old William Wines, were riding in near Bay Bridge Landing in Brunswick, according to the marine patrol. William Wines tried unsuccessfully to rescue his brother and was later treated for possible hypothermia at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick.

The boat was recovered, and life jackets were on board. However, neither man was wearing a life jacket when they went overboard, the marine patrol said.

Police received a report of a boat in trouble at 8:44 p.m. Friday. Witnesses on shore told authorities that one of the men passed them while he was in the water, and they called 911. The Brunswick and Topsham fire departments dispatched search boats. A Life Flight helicopter with spotlights and night vision technology helped with the search Friday night.

On Saturday, officers from the marine patrol and Brunswick Police Department, along with several divers, private boat owners and an airplane all failed to find the missing man by midafternoon. William Wines also joined the search Saturday.

Stephen Wines’ family continued to search for him Sunday.

Nichols said the small boat had a motor on it, but he didn’t have any details. He said it was a “Jon Boat,” a type made by a number of manufacturers, and is usually advertised as a duck-hunting boat, with a 5-horsepower motor and a flat bottom designed for navigating in shallow water.

Nichols declined to comment on whether the boat is considered suitable for a swift-flowing river.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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