September 8, 2013

A Maine fisherman's life lived large ends in a sea of questions

A friend who was with him on his last night talks about Billy McIntire's ill-fated swim, and the 'toughest decision of my life.'

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 4)

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Bouquets of flowers rest on the bow of the lobster boat Clover in memory of Billy McIntire in Perkins Cove recently. McIntire and his friend Tim Levesque, along with three women, took the boat out late on the night of Aug. 22. “None of this should have happened,” said Levesque, adding, “I’m the one who had to say ‘bye’ to him and let him go.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Fisherman Billy McIntire, shown at work in 2008, is presumed drowned after diving off his lobster boat late in the evening of Aug. 22, investigators say. His body has yet to be recovered.

Contributed photo

Additional Photos Below

"I knew I had three people on the boat, and I knew I had to take care of them," he said, recounting tearfully the events that have played like an endless movie reel in his mind.

"I got to the controls and I yelled, 'Mayday, mayday, Billy Mac is in the water!'"

FUTILE SEARCH, LINGERING QUESTIONS

The search for McIntire's body began immediately, with Levesque making wide circles around the bell buoy at the Clover's helm. Marine Patrol units and the Coast Guard arrived shortly after, but it wasn't long before the shock for Levesque set in.

"There was no fisherman out there who came to help me. Nobody else was there. I was the one who saw Billy sink and no one else. I'm the one who had to say 'bye' to him and let him go," Levesque said.

"None of this should have happened."

So far, McIntire's family has declined to be interviewed, and the Maine Marine Patrol, which is responsible for investigating McIntire's disappearance, has not responded to multiple requests for comment about Stephanie, what she told investigators that night, or what they believe to be her role in the drowning.

McIntire was only in the water for a few moments -- what could have happened in that time to cause his death?

Did McIntire suffer some other injury -- a heart attack or stroke -- that caused him to lose consciousness?

And why would an adult who could not swim jump into the ocean with a man she had only just met hours before?

Without clear answers or a body to bury, McIntire's family, friends and the wider fishing community are left only with the memories of one man's life and the lingering questions about how it ended, a few hundred yards from shore, in the waters all too familiar to them all. 

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Perkins Cove lobsterman Rick Knight, captain of the Michelle D, waits to unload his catch at the wharf late last month. Billy McIntire “was a hell of a nice guy,” Knight said of Perkins Cove’s unofficial “mayor,” who was lost at sea and presumed drowned on Aug. 22. McIntire was “always very popular and nice to be around,” Knight said.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Michelle Melanson and Tracy Charpentier, close friends of lost fisherman Billy McIntire, sit on the porch of their Ogunquit home late last month. According to Melanson, the empty chair in the foreground is where McIntire used to sit during his frequent visits.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

 


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