WCAX.com: Vermont Crews search for missing Vt. kayaker Hanover, New Hampshire - March 26, 2010 New Hampshire Fish and Game boats scoured the shoreline of the Connecticut River Friday looking for 65-year-old Alan Benjamin. Officials fear he has drowned. A state police helicopter searched from the sky.
The Rochester man was reported missing Thursday afternoon, when he never returned from a solo kayaking trip on the river. Benjamin's family has assisted rescuers in the search efforts. "They knew he was coming to this area to go kayaking (Thursday)," explained Lt. Todd Bogardus, of N.H. Fish &Game. "A specific area in mind we don't have. But, being the spring, kayaking is a sport."
Benjamin put in the river Thursday morning at a boat launch in North Thetford. Thursday evening, his kayak was found overturned and drifting about 13 miles down river-- just north of the Ledyard bridge in Hanover-- his identification still inside. Along with the kayak, rescue crews also recovered two life jackets, however at this time they are not sure if Benjamin was wearing one when he entered the water. "We've had cooperation from TransCanada. They have been able to close some of the dams down to lessen the current for us today," Bogardus said.
Fish and Game officials also had help from New England K-9 Search &Rescue. "Our primary use for the dogs is for people who are lost or missing on land, but we also train them to work for people in any kind of debris which would include people under water," said Nancy Lyon, of New England K-9 SAR. The dogs usually train with underwater drivers, but Friday's mission was the real deal. "They will be on the surface, but the odor that is coming from underwater will rise to the surface and they will tell us where they smell it," Lyon explained.
Even with a lower water level, the river's swift current was clearly visible from land-- a flow that first responders say can easily catch even an experienced kayaker off guard. "Anything can happen on a trip and certainly the water temperatures are cold enough where hypothermia can set in very quickly," Bogardus said. Officials planned to reevaluate their search at the end of Friday. But they also said that at this point in the recovery mission, it could be weeks before Benjamin's body is found.
Adam Sullivan - WCAX News