JONESPORT — A married couple who lived out of state has died after what was meant to be a routine canoe trip late in the day on Friday turned deadly.
Longtime summer residents Roy Carlile, 58, and his wife, Judith Carlile, 53, of Warrington, Pennsylvania, are believed to have died from hypothermia after they ended up in the chilly ocean waters of Down East Maine, according to the Coast Guard and officials with Maine Department of Marine Resources. Both were wearing life jackets when their bodies were recovered hours apart in the waters of Chandler Bay, on the east side of the peninsula where the fishing towns of Jonesport and Beals are separated by Moosabec Reach.
The body of Roy Carlile was recovered late Saturday morning, after a fisherman reported finding the Pennsylvania man’s body entangled in fishing gear near Sandy River Beach, about 5 miles northeast of Jonesport village. Judith Carlile’s body was recovered around 5:30 a.m. Sunday off Roque Island, which separates Chandler and Englishman bays, Jeff Nichols of Department of Marine Resources said in a news release Sunday.
Nichols and Coast Guard officials each said water temperatures over the weekend were in the low 50s.
Jolene Harmon, who lives across the road from the Carliles’ oceanfront cabin at the southern end of Sandy River Beach, was inside the cabin in Sunday afternoon, cleaning up some things and feeding the couple’s cat. She said she had talked to Judith Carlile’s sister, who lives out of state, and was trying to start the process of sorting through the Carliles’ belongings.
The Carliles had no children, she said.
According to Harmon, Judith Carlile grew up in Auburn, Maine, and had summered in Jonesport since she was a little girl. She said Judith Carlile’s parents had owned the cabin before they left it to their daughter and son-in-law.
Harmon said the Carliles frequently enjoyed paddling their small canoe, which is approximately 13 feet long, out into the bay in front of their small summer home, often making the 1½-mile trip across Chandler Bay to Roque Island. Harmon said she worried about the Carliles venturing out so far from shore in the open boat, sometimes in choppy weather.
Harmon said she came close to bringing up the subject with her neighbor last summer, but did not.
“I almost said, ‘Judy, you’re not playing it safe,’” Harmon said, her eyes welling up with tears as she stood on a small deck behind the Carliles’ home, overlooking the beach. “It never should have happened.”
Harmon said the Carliles had bought a larger property farther north off Mason Bay Road and, within a few years, hoped to build a year-round house on it. Roy Carlile, a military veteran, worked as a school bus dispatcher in Pennsylvania and was hoping to retire soon, she said.
“They were both very frugal. They knew how to manage their money,” Harmon said. “They were looking forward to living here permanently.”
If there was one consolation to their deaths, Harmon added, it was that “they died doing what they loved to do.”
Officials are not sure how the Carliles ended up in the water. Executive Petty Officer Jose Segura of the local Coast Guard station said Sunday that the first sign that something was amiss was a report from a local fishermen late in the day Friday about a canoe being adrift in the bay.
The seriousness of the drifting canoe became apparent the next day when Roy Carlile’s body was found, he said. This prompted a search effort for Judith Carlile, with Marine Patrol assisting Coast Guard on the water and Maine State Police interviewing people in Jonesport who knew the Carliles.
Segura cautioned that the relatively cold water on the Maine coast can have serious consequences for people, even if the conditions otherwise seem mild and pleasant. He said that people who go out on the water should let other people know when they plan to leave, where they plan to go and when they plan to return.
Taking a functional radio and equipping life vests with location transmitters that are activated when they get dunked in the water also can help alert others quickly if someone runs into trouble.
“Even though the air temperature might be at 75 [degrees], that water temperature is the one that causes the biggest issue,” Segura said. “Please have a float plan. Let somebody know what your plan is.”