The Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol searched all day Friday for a 35-year-old Wisconsin man who fell into the Kennebec River in Bath the previous night before calling off the search for the night.

David Henry Dieterich of Racine, Wisconsin, was in Bath on a work assignment with his company, Marshall Erecting, a subcontractor for Bath Iron Works, when he was reported missing just before 10 p.m. Thursday by two witnesses who saw him fall into the river, according to police. The man fell from a floating dock located by the north parking lot of the Kennebec Tavern.

The two witnesses, who identified themselves to police as Dieterich’s coworkers, told police they were standing on the dock when Dieterich fell into the water.

Bath Det. Sgt. Andrew Booth said it was dark and the dock Dieterich fell from was wet, slippery and wobbly. The witnesses told police they believe the man fell into the water accidentally. Authorities Friday were working to recover the man’s body.

“Mr. Dieterich was out socializing with his colleagues at several bars and restaurants in downtown Bath,” Bath Deputy Chief Robert Savary said in a statement. “He and his colleagues were on foot. They came across the area behind the Kennebec Tavern. The Kennebec Tavern was closed and not one of the establishments Dieterich was patronizing. Mr. Dieterich decided to walk onto the dock, which was only a foot or so from the shore. The high tide had caused the dock to rise so it was easily accessible to step on from the shoreline. Again, the area was roped off to discourage people from accessing the dock.”

No foul play is suspected, according to Savary.


Maine Marine Patrol and Coast Guard boats and personnel patrol the Kennebec River on Friday looking for a 35-year-old man who authorities believe fell into the water Thursday night. Times Record photo by Darcie Moore

The Coast Guard was notified shortly after police received the 911 call, according to Petty Officer Matthew Strickland. Crews from the Coast Guard station in Boothbay Harbor launched a search of the river and shoreline near where the man was last seen.

The Maine Marine Patrol and Bath fire and police departments joined the search, which also focused on the area north of the tavern, Strickland said. The Maine State Police dive team, Woolwich Fire Department, Sagadahoc Sheriff’s Department and Bath Iron Works security have also assisted in the search.

“The heavy fog is making it difficult,” Strickland said Friday morning.

The Coast Guard launched a 29-foot boat from Boothbay Harbor on Thursday evening and worked alongside the other agencies.

“Water temperature on the Kennebec River is 40 degrees and the currents move swiftly, making any activity on, or near, the water dangerous,” the Coast Guard statement said.

Marine Patrol Sgt. Robert Beal said that because of the dangers the river presents, there are times it’s just not safe for divers to be in the water.


“The concern here is that with the tide and the flow of the river, it’s hazardous for divers, with the exception of certain times of the tide,” Beal said.

The Maine Warden Service has a remote operated vehicle which is submersible and captures imagery under water. This technology can be used in place of divers. Marine Patrol planned to try searching with its side scan sonar device, which is dragged across the surface of the water as it sends sound waves into the depths below. If the current is running too hard, the vibrations created prevent the device from operating well.

“In the right environment, it’s a really, really good tool,” Beal said.

There are a number of variables that determine where they may find someone in a river, including current, temperatures, the clothing a person is wearing and how much air they have in their lungs, Beal said.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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