A Maine Maritime Academy student from Westbrook who disappeared in Orono two months ago drowned in the Penobscot River, his family said Monday.

The parents of David Breunig, a 21-year-old junior at the school in Castine, said that their son’s body was found Friday.

Breunig disappeared on the night of Feb. 26 as he walked to meet friends at a nearby bar. He was last seen leaving a party on Crosby Street in Orono, walking in the direction of a railroad bridge that crosses the Stillwater River, which flows into the Penobscot.

“It gives me closure that I know where he is now,” Breunig’s mother, Elaina Breunig, said Monday night in a telephone interview. “I was still holding out hope that the ending would have been different. I’m glad we can finally bring him home.”

Breunig’s family released his obituary Monday, writing that he “passed away after an accidental drowning.”

Elaina Breunig said she drove to Bangor on Friday night after being notified by the Maine Warden Service that a body matching the description of her son had been pulled from the Penobscot River. She said her son’s jeans and shoes were on the body, and that “They did find identification, his wallet.”


The Maine Warden Service issued a statement Monday that said the Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta must complete its examination of the body before it can make a positive identification and determine the cause and manner of death.

Warden Service spokesman Cpl. John MacDonald said the body was recovered Friday by the Bangor Fire Department near Sea Dog Brewing and Interstate 395. MacDonald said a statement about the person’s identity will be released after the Medical Examiner’s Office completes its work this week.

Richard Bowie, director of operations for the Orono-based Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, said the chances that the body is not Breunig’s are remote because there have been no other recent reports of people who went missing near the Penobscot River.

Bowie’s organization spent 50 days searching for Breunig along the Penobscot from Orono to Stockton Springs.

Elaina Breunig understands that the state must follow certain protocols before it can identify the body and the cause of death, but said she and her husband, David Breunig, have no doubt that the body is that of their eldest son.

“There is very little question in my mind,” she said. “It’s hard to mistake a kid who is 6 feet 4 inches tall.”


The couple have two other children, Derek, a freshman at Maine Maritime Academy, and a daughter, Danielle, who attends Westbrook High School.

David graduated from Westbrook High School in 2013. Derek also is a Westbrook High graduate.

David, who was known to friends as DJ, was majoring in marine engineering technology and was on the dean’s list at Maine Maritime. He played football, basketball and baseball at Westbrook, and played one year of basketball at Maine Maritime.

During the week he would study hard, his mother said, and on weekends he enjoyed visiting friends who were students at the University of Maine.

“My son went missing because he fell in the river. I want people to know that accidents happen and it could happen to them,” she said. “He wasn’t doing anything wrong that night. What he was doing, we may never know for sure.”

David was extremely popular, his mother said, and his siblings and other people his age looked up to him as a leader.


More than 100 people gathered on Portland’s Western Promenade on a frigid night in early March for a vigil for Breunig.

“He was a fantastic kid,” his mother said. “We provided him with a wonderful life and he knew that we loved him.”

Visiting hours, from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Westbrook High School auditorium, will be open to the public. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook.


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