PORTLAND (AP) – Rescue workers spent Sunday looking for a 79-year-old man from Kittery one day after finding his companion dead in a station wagon stranded on a rutted logging road in Washington County.

The search for Lewis Gardner and 74-year-old Mona Cole began Friday as three airplanes and about 50 people fanned out across the county’s back roads. Gardner’s son reported the couple missing last week after he realized they were 10 days late returning to Kittery from a vacation to the family’s Down East home.

Searchers found Cole’s body in a blue Saturn station wagon, which was mired on a nearly impassable road, after spotting the car from the air, said Mark Latti of the Maine Warden Service.

While the cause of death had not been determined, it appeared the couple took a wrong turn, got lost in a maze of logging roads and got stuck in the woods south of Josh Pond, Latti said. There was no sign of Gardner near the car.

Investigators said they have no reason to believe the case was anything but an accident. Family members said the couple traveled Down East in early August and planned to return to Kittery on Sept. 20.

Gardner’s son, Bud Gardner of Dover, N.H., reported the couple missing after he realized his father wouldn’t be home in time to accompany him on a trip planned to the World War II monument in Washington, D.C.

Police and family members visited Gardner’s home in Whiting early in the search and discovered moldy food and other signs to indicate the couple had not been there for a period as long as two weeks.

Gardner said his father busied himself driving back roads, visiting friends and family members, and tinkering with the model boats and automobiles he liked to build. “I had no problem thinking of him alone up there,” he said.

Friends and family members in Whiting also were not alarmed by the absence of Gardner and Cole because they thought the couple had returned to Kittery.

The search for Gardner continued Sunday with the help of dogs. Cots had been set up in the Whiting Community Center for searchers to spend the night.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.