VASSALBORO — The black-and-yellow canoe was lodged in the whitewater coming off the dam at Outlet Stream on Tuesday morning, a reminder of the tragedy that unfolded the night before when a 5-year-old boy died after he and his mother were thrown into the frigid waters while going over the falls.

William Egold died early Tuesday at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor after suffering from severe hypothermia, the Maine Warden Service said.

William Egold, 5, died after falling out of a canoe at Outlet Stream in Vassalboro on Monday. Photo courtesy of Martha Foster Collins

Mollie Egold, 25, and her son were wearing life jackets Monday evening, but the strong current below the falls proved deadly. After being thrown from the canoe, William was trapped under water against debris. His mother was able to free him, but they floated downstream about 1,000 feet before she was able to get him out of the water and call for help, said Cpl. John MacDonald, spokesman for the warden service.

Warden officials did not know where William got stuck or for how long the pair were in the frigid water.

Martha Foster Collins of Augusta, a friend of the family who posted about the tragedy on Facebook, said in an interview Tuesday that Mollie is like her own daughter, and that William was like a grandson.

“William was a spectacular little boy; he was a knight in shining armor,” Collins said. She described “Willie” as a special child with a “zest for life” who drew people to him even though he and his mother had moved to Vassalboro less than two months ago.

Mollie Egold wasn’t available to comment Tuesday night. It wasn’t clear where they had moved from or whether they had family members in the area.

“Everybody that met Willie fell in love with him. He was that kind of a child,” Collins said. “They all couldn’t do enough for Willie.”

One man gave William a bike, employees at nearby Ferris’ Variety gave him fishing equipment, and Ray Breton, who has owned the Vassalboro park area for four years and provides striped canoes that people can use for free, let the boy spend time with his horses.

Maine Game Warden Steve Couture said hypothermia was definitely a factor in the death of William Egold, 5, in a canoeing accident Monday on Outlet Stream in Vassalboro. Staff photo by David Leaming

SWIFT WATER

Tuesday morning, Breton threw a grappling hook and, with three other men, freed the 16-foot canoe and pulled it onto dry land. The curved end of the canoe was cracked from hitting the bottom of the stream after dropping 10 feet from the top of the dam.

“Last night, you know, you couldn’t sleep. It’s too much like my own kid,” Breton said, choking up as he stood beside the dam at Outlet Stream.

Breton said he was on the other side of the stream, opposite Route 32, training horses before the canoe accident occurred.

When Breton saw the canoe later that evening, he thought some kids had let it flow downstream and left it there, so he called a friend who lives on Route 32.

“I asked him, ‘Who was in the black and yellow one?’ and he said, ‘That was William and his mom,’ ” Breton said. “Right then, I knew.”

He drove down the street, just past The Olde Mill, and saw police cars, ambulances and game wardens.

According to Breton’s friend who lives nearby, Mollie and her son were canoeing in the area for quite a while before the accident. They stuck close to the shoreline most of the time, Breton said, but at one point appeared to go toward the middle.

“The water was swift and the canoe overturned, causing both to enter the water,” a statement from the warden service said.

Law enforcement and first responders were dispatched to the stretch of the stream behind 960 Main St. shortly after 7:30 p.m..

William was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville by ambulance shortly after 8 p.m., where he stayed for about four hours, said Game Warden Steven Couture He was then taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

MacDonald said game wardens were told early Tuesday morning that William had died overnight. The warden service is investigating the incident.

Collins said Mollie Egold was released from the hospital Monday night and is staying with her.

While Couture didn’t yet know the cause of death for William, he said at the park Tuesday that “hypothermia was definitely an issue.”

“We’re concerned about water temperature this time of year,” he said.

He didn’t know the exact water temperature, but the air temperature was 50 degrees at the time. The National Weather Service in Gray estimates that most inland rivers and streams had water temperatures running in the 40-degree range Monday.

Mollie Egold suffered from hypothermia as well, Couture said.

Breton, who created the park so that kids in Vassalboro would have access to the water, puts out the canoes and life jackets for public use. The area isn’t monitored all the time, he said, but when he or his friends are there they tell people to stay away from the buoys before the dam and that they have to wear life jackets.

The blue line of buoys are right before the waterfall and the dam, where the current gets stronger. Breton said the water along that line is only about 2 feet deep so that people can stand there if they have to abandon their canoes.

Breton did not immediately return a call Tuesday afternoon seeking comment on whether the accident will prompt any changes at the park, such as new safety measures or signage.

There haven’t been any accidents at that part of the Outlet Stream since Breton has owned the property, he said, and the last one he could find on record was in the 1950s.

‘LITTLE ANGEL’ SUDDENLY GONE

Mike Switzer, who lives above Ferris Variety, said he saw the Egolds nearly every day and was in shock over the boy’s death.

“The kid would bring a smile to anybody’s face, no matter how bad a day you were having,” Switzer said. William had just caught his first fish the other day, he said, and made his mother show the picture to everyone he met.

Collins said she’ll never get over the loss of her “little angel.”

“Just treasure, treasure every split-second of every day you have with your children or your grandchildren,” she said. “Just treasure every moment, because in a split-second they’re gone.”