Man falls through thin ice, drowns

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RANGELEY – A man drowned in Rangeley Lake on Sunday morning after falling through the thin sheet of ice covering the lake.

Warden Sgt. John Blagdon of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said neighbors reported a man drowning about halfway between Naramantic Island and the shore of the lake at 9:40 a.m.

“The man was crossing the lake on cross country skis to get back to his vehicle, which was parked on the mainland,” Blagdon said.

The man, whose identity was not released while authorities attempted to contact out-of-state family members, was staying at a camp on Naramantic Island. Blagdon said it appeared that the man owned the camp.

“We have been posting public service announcements about this for weeks,” Blagdon said, referring to the dangers of thin ice. “The ice covering the lake is very, very thin due to the warm temperatures we have been seeing.”

Blagdon was unsure how long the man had been staying at the camp or how he initially reached the island.

Divers from the Warden Service dive team recovered the man’s body at 3 p.m. Sunday. They were assisted by Rangeley Fire and Rescue and Maine State Police.

According to Rangeley Fire Chief Rudy Davis, Naramantic Island is the largest of the South Bog Islands, which are located on the west side of Rangeley Lake.

Naramantic Island has two or three camps, while the smaller islands each have one camp, he said.

Warden Reggie Hammond will be continuing the investigation into the drowning today.

Elsewhere, in Dexter fire crews rescued a man from Wassookeag Lake around 3:30 Sunday afternoon after he fell through the ice twice while trying to save his dog.

The man and his dog were walking on the ice off the shore of his camp when the dog ran toward the middle of the lake, broke through the thin ice and fell into the water.

The man grabbed a boat and began pushing it toward the break in the ice where the dog had gone into the water. He broke through ice at least twice himself but eventually managed to pull himself into the boat, according to Dexter police Chief Art Roy.

Roy was one of the first to arrive on the scene and noted that what little ice there was on the lake was extremely thin.

“There’s still open water toward the middle and there’s probably 2 inches [of ice] along the shore,” Roy said.

Dexter fire crews arrived, suited up in their water rescue gear, got in their own boat and went out to pull the man back to shore. He was not taken to the hospital and was treated at the scene in an ambulance, according to Roy.

The dog, which had been in the water for around 30 minutes before crews arrived, did not survive the incident, Roy said.

And according to WCSH Channel 6’s Web site, two brothers were snowmobiling on Pushaw Lake in Old Town when one of the men fell through the ice. He was rescued safely, the station reported.

(The Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.)

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