January 13

Two missing surfers found safe off Kennebunkport

Searchers locate the pair after rough surf conditions force them to swim to an island and away from Goose Rocks Beach.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Two surfers who went missing Sunday afternoon off Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport were able to swim to safety and were reported to be in fairly good health.

click image to enlarge

Two surfers walk along Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport after being found Sunday on Timber Island. The two were separated from a third surfer who came to shore to get help.

Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

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Kennebunkport Fire Department Capt. Mike McGrath, far right, and other emergency personnel watch for two missing surfers at Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport on Sunday.

Chris Berry, a search-and-rescue coordinator for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the incident began when two male surfers lost sight of their partner, a woman, at about 2:30 p.m. One man went back into the water to look for her while the other went to a nearby home and called 911 for help.

Berry said the man who returned to the ocean found the female surfer, but because of rough surf conditions the pair had to abandon their surfboards and swim to nearby Timber Island, which is in Biddeford. The island is visible from Goose Rocks Beach.

“I am not sure how far they swam,” Berry said.

At the time, waves of 4 to 7 feet were reported along the coast, where the wind was gusting to 35 mph and the water temperature was 40 degrees. All of the surfers were wearing wetsuits.

Meanwhile, after receiving a distress call around 3 p.m., the Coast Guard had launched boats out of its South Portland and Portsmouth, N.H., stations, and a helicopter out of Cape Cod. The Kennebunkport fire and rescue departments, its police department and the Maine Marine Patrol also responded.

Members of the water rescue team found the surfers on Timber Island around 4 p.m. Then members of the ground rescue team walked with the surfers from the island – it was low tide by then – back to Goose Rocks Beach.

“They were described as being cold but OK,” Berry said.

The Coast Guard boats and helicopter were ordered to return to their bases before they had arrived in Kennebunkport.

Fire Chief Allan Moir said members of the town’s ambulance crew treated the surfers for possible hypothermia but they did not need to be transported to a local hospital. Moir said both surfers were very cold but appeared to be doing fine, with no apparent injuries.

Moir and the Coast Guard did not get the names of the surfers.

Goose Rocks Beach, a 3-mile-long sand beach off King’s Highway, is a popular spot for surfers.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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