HARTFORD — A young Buckfield man was found dead in the woods Sunday morning about a half mile from where his car was discovered Saturday mired in mud on a back road.
Daniel Danforth, 21, was found off Cary Hill Road, according to Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland, who said the cause of death appeared to be exposure.
McCausland said Danforth had left his car, a Saturn, on the end of Cary Hill Road after it became mired in mud after a party Friday night.
“He was returning from a party and got either lost or stuck,” McCausland said. He said it was unclear whether Danforth meant to take the back road or if he was lost.
McCausland said the car was found Saturday morning. “The assumption was that he had probably walked back and got a ride from friends at the party,” he said. McCausland said the car was found about half a mile from the location of the outdoor party.
On Sunday, when Danforth was still missing, the Maine State Police and the Maine Warden Service began searching for him. McCausland said they followed tracks in the mud from Danforth's car about 2 miles through the woods.
“It appeared like he had walked in a circle and was about a half mile from where his car was,” McCausland said. He said Danforth didn't appear to have been looking for shelter — the man walked close to a seasonal home but didn't approach the building.
“There's no explanation to why he didn't just follow the road back,” McCausland said. “We'll never know that answer.”
McCausland said the funeral home is examining his body for the cause of death, but said it was most likely exposure to the cold on Friday night.
Danforth was a 2007 graduate of Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. He attended St. Joseph's College in Standish for one year and left the school in 2008, according to Sue Johnson, spokeswoman for St. Joseph's.