May 15, 2013

Dive team recovers bodies of Rangeley snowmobilers

Extreme weather led to delays and extended the search for John Spencer and Ken Henderson.

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

RANGELEY – Searchers recovered the bodies Wednesday of two snowmobilers who fell into open water on Rangeley Lake in December.

The dive team used side-scan sonar to find the bodies late in the morning in 60 feet of water, Sgt. Scott Thrasher of the Maine Warden Service dive team said.

Wardens recovered the bodies of Ken Henderson, 40, of China, and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield.

The body of a third man, Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus was recovered Friday.

Thrasher said wardens and relatives identified the bodies by the items of clothing they were wearing.

The two men's bodies were found about three-quarters of a mile from where Glenn Henderson's body was found and were recovered by divers about 11:30 a.m., Thrasher said.

The three men are believed to have fallen into the water Dec. 30, 2012, the same night a Yarmouth woman drove her snowmobile onto the partially frozen lake, fell in and did not survive.

Thrasher said the eight dive team members initially searched an area of about 2.5 square miles where they thought it was most likely the missing men's remains would be located.

Helmets, gloves and, later, snowmobiles had been found in earlier searches of that area.

It also was where searchers found the body of Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth, who went into open water on the lake the night of Dec. 30 while snowmobiling with her 16-year-old son. He managed to jump from his snowmobile onto solid ice before his machine sank.

Dawn Newell's body was recovered the next day.

After searching unsuccessfully for the three men's bodies within the original area, Thrasher said Wednesday, wardens found the bodies in a smaller area of 31 acres, or around a half square mile, just outside the original one.

Thrasher said the four-and-a-half-month search was the longest search he and the other wardens can remember. He said the large area and extreme winter weather conditions, including freezing temperatures and high winds, were major factors in the extended search.

The search initially was postponed in early January because of cold and high wind on an open section of the lake. The search plans changed when the lake froze, but the effort was delayed again because the ice was too thin to hold the people and equipment needed.

After the ice melted on May 2, the wardens prepared to resume the search and were out on the water on May 7.

The snowmobiles were located in February, but are still in the lake, Thrasher said Wednesday.

 

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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Additional Photos

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The search for two missing snowmobilers ended Wednesday when Maine Warden Service dive team members recovered the bodies of Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China, and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield, from Rangeley Lake.

Contributed photo

  


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