UPDATE: Wardens find snowmobiler’s body in Rangeley Lake

RANGELEY — Technical difficulties halted a search Thursday for the bodies of three missing snowmobilers in Rangeley Lake.

The equipment was expected to be fixed Thursday night, Maine Warden Service Lt. Kevin Adam said as five boats returned to the dock at Lakeside Park shortly after 5 p.m.

Wardens and divers will return Friday to resume search-and-recovery efforts for the snowmobilers who have been missing since Dec. 30.

The snowmobilers, Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China, Glen Henderson, 43, of Sabattus, and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield are presumed to be in the lake. Wardens believe the men were crossing the lake during whiteout conditions and drove into open water.

Wardens had located the three snowmobiles in February, but the search for the bodies was called off until spring.

The wardens have worked since Tuesday with sonar equipment and water-certified cadaver dogs to try to narrow down the mile-and-a-half area where the riders are believed to have gone into the lake.

Searchers identified targets by sonar and sent divers into the water Thursday afternoon to check five target areas.

The sonar images are grainy and pick up images of shoals, rocks and trees. Before sending the divers into the cold water, rescuers retrieve images from different angles and study them at night, Adam said.

“It could be a rock, tree or what we’re looking for,” he said.

The initial area of interest turned out to be a rock. Divers came back to shore to pick up additional equipment and returned to another area, which the warden said was more than 100 feet deep.

The areas of interest are between 70 and 130 feet deep. The water temperature at the surface of the lake was 50 degrees Thursday, Adam said.

The area south of the site where sleds, gloves and helmets were found is the focus of the search due to the currents in the water, he said.

The water-certified cadaver dogs, sitting on the front of the boat as it moved slowly through the water, attempted to pick up scents.

“It’s a lot harder on the water,” Adam said.

A family member said the dogs barked in one area but Adam could not confirm it. He had not talked with the dog trainers.

When the dogs respond, they indicate an area, not a particular spot below the boat, he said.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said.

Family members and friends waited by the shore, as they had since Tuesday. 

“They are frustrated,” Adam said. He had just explained to them the need to stop for the day.

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