Here in Maine, the rivers are running rapid with the spring melt. The Androscoggin River is no different, and at some points it’s running three times faster than it had been just days before.

It was along these banks in Auburn that Jason McFarland and his wife, Helena Gagliano-McFarland, lost their 5-year-old son, Valerio, to the river April 24.

Despite heroic efforts by Jason, their 10-year-old son, Max, and their 9-year-old daughter, Giada, who all jumped into the swift waters in an attempt to save Valerio, they couldn’t. Now a recovery effort is on to find Valerio’s body, but the family is distraught, not just over the loss of their son, but also, they have said, over the lack of a coordinated recovery effort by the state.

Despite the parents’ personal pleas to Gov. LePage, the National Guard has not been called in to help search for the body. Unable to even begin the healing process until their son’s body is recovered, the family is asking for help, both in the search and with mounting medical bills: Max’s mother told me that he just came home Tuesday from the hospital, where he made a miraculous recovery after he himself almost drowned.

Jason McFarland is a veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan and received a Purple Heart. It is more than disturbing that those who claim to support the troops turn their back on them just when they need them the most.

Gov. LePage, do your job by calling upon all available resources to find Valerio McFarland’s body while there is still time. You, and all citizens of Maine, owe this brave and grieving family that much.

Don Kimball

South Portland


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