This section of river usually has a lazy flow, sandy beaches, and in the summer is populated by sometimes several hundred canoes from over a half dozen liveries, lots of beer, music, and a rather festive vibe (description may be somewhat understated) and dozens of beaches where people camp out and party all weekend. I am sure these paddlers did not expect the type of conditions they experienced. At least some of the liveries were not renting boats this weekend.
A really unfortunate incident. Medium river flows, but certainly higher than normal, coupled with cold water and what sounds like paddler inexperience, followed by a tragic boat crash that resulted in injury to two local police officers responding to the accident.
Fryeburg police officer remains in critical condition
A second officer is released from the hospital, and the search for a canoeist, now considered a recovery effort, will resume Tuesday.
One of the Fryeburg police officers who assisted in a rescue attempt on the Saco River on Saturday was released from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Monday, while another officer remained in critical condition. Fryeburg police officers Dale Stout, 51, and Nathan Desjardins, 20, were thrown from a rescue boat after it hit something near the shore, according to the Maine Warden Service. They were transported by medical helicopter to CMMC, where Desjardins has been in critical condition since.
Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick, is still missing, but police now consider the search to be a recovery effort. Bousquet disappeared after the canoe she was riding in with Wayne Demers, 62, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, capsized about 3:50 p.m. Saturday near mile 8 of the Saco River.
A second canoe paddled by Brian Day, 54, of South Berwick, who was riding alongside them, also capsized. Demers and Day made it to shore. The search for Bousquet is expected to resume Tuesday morning, according to the warden service.
The Desjardins family released a statement to WCSH-6 on Sunday saying that Nathan Desjardins suffered “intensive head trauma” and that his “mother, father and older brother are by his side 24/7.” Stout is also a firefighter/paramedic with the Biddeford Fire Department.
Biddeford Fire Chief Scott Gagne released a statement Monday saying that the department’s peer support team has been working with Stout and his family as he recovers. “Dale has been a valued career member of our department for the past 11 years. We wish him a speedy recovery. Our thoughts also go out to Officer Desjardins and his family,” Gagne said.
Paul Hall, who was fishing with a friend on the Saco River on Saturday, told WCSH-6 on Monday that he heard a “loud bang” and then heard Stout yelling for help. They went to the rescue boat and found Stout injured and Desjardins unconscious. They used Stout’s radio to call for help, Hall told the TV station.
“You won’t forget about something like this. It’s one of those things where it won’t be in the front of my mind … but I can close my eyes and see it probably forever,” he said.
FRYEBURG, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Maine Warden Service confirmed to NEWS CENTER Sunday night that the search for a missing woman in the Saco River is now a recovery mission.
Corporal Mike Joy, the Warden Dive Team leader said they "hope for a rescue when [they're] diving," but that when divers are involved, it is typically a recovery mission. Cpl. Joy said his team found a number of items that he believes belong to the three canoeists, including one of the survivors' wallets, and a cooler.
"The conditions are extremely dangerous," said Cpl. Joy. "The current is strong. There are a lot of obstructions." Joy said they call the area of the river where they are searching a "strainer." He said that underneath the surface is a "maze of logs, sharp sticks, fishing line, and rope." "It's a jungle of debris," Joy said.
Joy said lots of debris gets caught in these areas, such as other tree limbs, baseball hats, and beer cans. He said it is likely that Bousquet's body may be caught in one of these areas. He said they may bring K9s to search the river again, but that the big focus will be the dive operations.
Missing Woman Found
FRYEBURG, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Police confirmed the body of missing canoeist, Jennifer Bousquet, was recovered from the Saco River in Fryeburg on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Maine Game Wardens, Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick, had been missing after she fell off of a canoe into the river on Saturday. Wardens say they found her body about 300-400 yards and approximately 8 ft from where she was last seen.
Chief Potvin had his officers patrolling the fast-moving river this Memorial Day weekend.
Bousquet was canoeing with her friends Brian Day, 54, of South Berwick and Wayne Demers, 62, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, when their canoe flipped over, sending all three into the frigid river. The two men made it out of the river, but Bousquet did not.
Two Fryeburg police officers raced to help. Nate Desjardins, 20, was out on the river for his first day of on-duty training with veteran officer Dale Stout, 51, who friends say knows the river well. During the attempted rescue, their boat hit something in the water causing both of them to be thrown overboard. Desjardins and Stout were airlifted to Central Maine Medical Center.
Stout, one of the two Fryeburg police officers hurt in Saturday’s violent boat crash on the Saco River left the hospital Monday. Desjardins remains in critical condition, according to his chief and hospital staff. He suffered intensive head trauma, according to a family statement given to
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Spokesperson John MacDonald said the Saco River is very popular with canoeists, it is generally safe around July and August when the water is shallow. There is one area of the river, Walker's Falls, where a set of rapids has caused canoes to capsize and could be dangerous this time of year when the water is cold and treacherous.
Corporal Mike Joy, the Warden Dive Team leader, said they "hope for a rescue when [they're] diving," but that when divers are involved, it is typically a recovery mission.
"It's a tough time," Chief Potvin said, "It's the first time one of our watercrafts has been involved.
"The police force is actually a pretty small community in Maine," said Warden Service Maj. Chris Cloutier, "so we know almost every person who is a law enforcement officer, so it does impact everyone involved."
The Maine Warden Service confirmed to NEWS CENTER Sunday night that the search for a missing woman in the Saco River is now a recovery mission. "The conditions are extremely dangerous," said Cpl. Joy. "The current is strong. There are a lot of obstructions."
"It's a jungle of debris," he said. Lots of debris gets caught in these areas, such as other tree limbs, baseball hats, and beer cans. He said it is likely that Bousquet's body may be caught in one of these areas.
Major Chris Cloutier said alcohol was a factor and the river is extremely, high, fast, and cold due to recent rains.
© 2017 WCSH-TV
Fryeburg police mourn the death of officer
By Daymond Steer
Nathan DesjardinsFRYEBURG — “With great sadness and a heavy heart” Police Chief Joshua Potvin said in a written statement that 20 year old officer Nathan Desjardins died Tuesday in the hospital after sustaining injuries during a Saco River rescue attempt this month.
On May 27, the two Fryeburg Police officers, Dale Stout, 51, and Nathan Desjardines, 20, struck an object in the water with their jet boat while they were attempting to join a Maine Warden Service search to find missing canoeist Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick, Maine.
Bousquet was canoeing with Wayne Demers, 62, of Somersworth and her boyfriend, Bryan Day, 54, of South Berwick, Maine, when their two canoes capsized.
Bousquest’s body was located on May 30, 35 yards from where she was last seen in the canoe.
On Wednesday, Potvin released a written statement saying that the Fryeburg Police Department extends its “prayers and deepest sympathy” to Desjardins’ friends, family and co-workers,
Desjardins died at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
“In the course of a police officer’s responsibilities, they expose themselves to very real risks and dangers every day,” said Potvin. “Members of the Fryeburg Police Department are deeply saddened by the tragic death of our colleague. We offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family, fellow colleagues and friends of Nathan.
“During this extremely difficult time of mourning the loss of one of my own, I have to find the words and strength to inspire my officers, to motivate them and reassure them that together we will be okay and still have a job to do. I ask that you keep Officer Desjardin’s family in your thoughts and prayers as well as our law enforcement and first responder community during this extremely difficult time.”
Fellow Fryeburg Police Officer Michelle Legare set up two Go Fund Me Pages, one for each officer and their families, on June 2. As of Wednesday afternoon, the page for Desjardins had raised $3,595 of its $25,000 goal. The page for Stout raised $980 of its $10,000 goal.
The Go Fund Me Page for Stout notes he will be on a long road to recovery.
Published reports say that Desjardins was new to Fryeburg Police. “On behalf of your fellow brothers and sisters at Fryeburg Police; rest in peace buddy, we’ll take it from here,” said Potvin.
Not sure if you heard about the fatality in Fryeburg ME two weeks ago but it was an u fortunately textbook example of safety being disregarded: canoe flips, woman gets pinned in strainer and the two PD officers who responded by boat had no PPE on, flipped their boat. One is hospitalized with multiple traumas and one is in a coma. Unfortunate all around but definitely one I hope folks and responders can learn from.