RANGELEY — The body of a 45-year-old Yarmouth woman was recovered Monday from Rangeley Lake and three men are presumed dead there as well, after two snowmobiling incidents over the weekend.
Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth, was recovered at 11:30 a.m. Monday in the Franklin County lake after an intense search effort by the Maine Warden Service’s dive team, aircraft and wardens, and Rangeley Fire and Rescue.
Hers is the first fatality of the 2012-2013 snowmobiling season, wardens said.
In a separate incident, three men who were reported missing about 2:30 a.m. Monday are believed to be in the lake as well, said Cpl. John MacDonald, spokesman for the warden service. The men were identified Monday night as Kenneth Henderson, 40, of China, Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus, and John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield.
During the search for Newell, wardens recovered several pieces of evidence suggesting the three men went into Rangeley Lake as well. They left on snowmobiles from Carrabassett Valley about 6 p.m. Sunday and were last known to be in Eustis.
The warden service suspended its search for the men at sundown Monday and planned to resume efforts Tuesday, weather permitting, using airboats, sonar and aircraft. MacDonald said he would provide an update on the search during a news conference Tuesday morning.
Newell went into the water about 7 p.m. Sunday when the snowmobile she was driving broke through the ice on Rangeley Lake and sank, according to the warden service. The woman’s 16-year-old son, who was driving behind her on his own snowmobile, was able to avoid the open water and called 911.
Game wardens searched overnight in extreme cold conditions and resumed efforts Monday morning.
The lake, which is only partially frozen, was abuzz Monday as three airboats and a motorboat scanned the waters for the missing people. About 15 wardens wearing orange survival suits were on scene, along with members of Rangeley Fire and Rescue, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and local police.
Friends and family of Newell gathered downtown Monday afternoon but declined to talk to a reporter.
Jim Tribou, a frequent visitor to Rangeley from New Hampshire, said the lake is a popular route for snowmobilers crossing from one side of downtown to the other. Snowmobiling through town is prohibited, and a trail around the town adds about 5 miles to the trip.
The shortcut across the ice is tempting, he said.
Rangeley resident David Wright said the ice is unsafe now. Recent snow has added an insulating blanket to the ice, which can trap relatively warmer temperatures that rise from the lake. Also, persistent wind in the area has prevented the formation of additional ice, he said.
Today also marks the opening day of ice fishing season in Maine. The warden service is urging extreme caution, whether on foot or recreational vehicle. Ice conditions remain hazardous, according to a warden service press release.
Ben McCanna — 861-9239