An 88-year-old Smithfield man was found dead Wednesday night in East Pond,  just a few feet away from his partially submerged car, authorities say.

The death of Matthew Pratt, of Cardinal Lane, is being considered by the Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as an unattended death rather than as a result of a vehicle accident, according to Chief Deputy Michael Mitchell of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

Mitchell said Thursday that Pratt’s son called police Wednesday night as he had been unable since Tuesday to reach his father, who lives alone and had health issues. Another family member had driven by the home and did not see Pratt’s car, a 2020 Toyota Corolla, Mitchell said.

Somerset Sheriff’s Deputy Toby Blodgett went to Pratt’s home and saw the Toyota, partially submerged, near the shore, Mitchell said.

“Right near the residence, you could see the car in the water, right in East Pond,” Mitchell said. “Not too far from the vehicle, they found Mr. Pratt in about 3 feet of water.”

Mitchell said it is not clear as to what happened — whether the car went into the water and Pratt went in after it, or whether he was in the vehicle when it went into the water and he got out of it. The car doors were closed when authorities found it, he said.


Matthew Pratt, the owner of the car partially submerged in East Pond off Cardinal Lane in Smithfield, was found dead on Wednesday in 3 feet of water nearby. Photo contributed by Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

“They (the medical examiner’s office) don’t have a cause of death yet, obviously,” Mitchell said. “There’s nothing suspicious about it that we’re investigating. We’re treating it as an unattended death of a man who had health issues.”

Mitchell said apparently Pratt was scheduled for a hip procedure Thursday.

Mitchell said that, according to a report issued by sheriff’s Corporal Ritchie Putnam, Pratt’s son called authorities at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday to report he had not been able to reach his father. Pratt was known to have health issues and he had a difficult time walking and keeping his balance, according to Putnam’s report.

State Police; the Smithfield Fire Department; Chuck’s Auto Recovery & Towing, of Madison; and Giberson Funeral Home, also of Madison; assisted with the call, Putnam said.

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