VOLUNTEERS WITH AN AIR BOAT search the Androscoggin River on Monday for Stephen Wines, 27, of Bath who fell from a boat into the river Friday night.

VOLUNTEERS WITH AN AIR BOAT search the Androscoggin River on Monday for Stephen Wines, 27, of Bath who fell from a boat into the river Friday night.

BRUNSWICK

The family of a man who fell in the Androscoggin River on Friday say they just want him found and ask for more volunteers to help in the search.

Stephen Wines, 27, of Bath was last seen in the river near Bay Bridge Landing in Brunswick, accessed through Bay Bridge Estates off Old Bath Road, at around 8:40 p.m. Friday.

STEPHEN WINES, 27, seen snuggling with his 7-month-old daughter.

STEPHEN WINES, 27, seen snuggling with his 7-month-old daughter.

His fiancee, Tasha Cave, said Wines was an outdoorsman who fished every chance he got. He was a good swimmer too, she said, adding that he’d fished in this area of the river many times.

“If he is not fishing, he is swimming with the fish,” Cave said.

She was on shore Friday night while Wines was fishing in a small skiff with brother William Wines and it looked like they were headed back to Bay Bridge Landing. She walked toward the car because her daughter was becoming fussy, and turned and the boat was gone. She thought they’d gone to try one more fishing spot.

Witnesses who heard two men yelling from the river called 911 at 8:44 p.m. Brunswick and Topsham fire departments responded with rescue boats and William Wines was found with the boat, escorted to shore and taken to Mid Coast Hospital where he was treated and released.

Stephen Wines was still in the water, however. Cave said Wines, a builder, had been working long hours and hadn’t felt good Friday. He reportedly got lightheaded after he stood up while working on a home. She said according to his brother, Wines just fell out of the back of the boat. They don’t know if he passed out or what caused him to fall.

Cave said the couple have a 7- month-old baby together and Wines has a 10-year-old son in West Virginia.

Brianna Gowell, Cave’s best friend, said Wines was a family man who lit up a room when he entered.

“We need to find him, and we’re not going to have closure until we find him,” she said. “We’re not going to stop.”

Firefighters, police, Maine Marine Patrol and a LifeFlight helicopter all worked against the clock Friday night trying to find Wines, finally calling it quits at midnight. Family and friends armed with flashlights kept looking.

Marine Patrol searched again Saturday with boats, a plane and divers. Several volunteers helped, including off-duty Topsham police officer Troy Garrison who brought his personal boat and used sonar equipment to aid in the search.

More volunteers searched in heavy rain Sunday. Monday as the wind grew along with white caps, family friend Jeff Moore showed up and launched his air boat which can traverse less accessible areas of the river.

Marine Patrol Sgt. Matt Talbot said Monday the department had a boat out in the water shortly after 9 a.m. to search for most of the day. Officers focused on an area downriver from Bay Bridge Landing toward Merrymeeting Bay.

There was quite a bit of water flow with the recent rain in what is a fairly dynamic river to begin with, he said. At different stages of tide there are a lot of sand bars and shallow water and the visibility was less desirable than it was Saturday.

Today is expected to provide better search weather.

While some family members have been critical of Marine Patrol for not searching more, Talbot said the department has only a certain set of resources which it tries to use to the best of its abilities. Knowing there was significant rain in the forecast and that water visibility would be poor, the decision was made not to send out a boat Sunday. Conditions were not ideal Monday either.

Today, the sun should be out and conditions improving. Asked about the call for additional volunteers from the family, Talbot said he’d never turn away someone who wants to help look.

“Certainly the more eyes the better, as long as it’s done in a safe manner,” he said. “As long as you’ve got watercraft that’s appropriate for the conditions and as long as you take the proper safety precautions, that’s not a problem. There just needs to be some planning involved.”

Ideally, that will include any boaters wearing life jackets.

A GoFundMe page for Cave and her daughter has been created at gofundme.com/3s41gb4.


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