The family of a 20-year-old police officer who suffered a severe head injury Saturday during a rescue operation on the Saco River remains hopeful for his recovery, a chaplain for a local fire department says.

Kevin Jacques, a chaplain for the Biddeford and Saco fire departments, said he visited with the family of Nathan Desjardins on Wednesday at Central Maine Medical Center, where Desjardins was taken after he and Fryeburg police Officer Dale Stout, 51, were thrown from a rescue boat when it struck something near the shore, according to the Maine Warden Service.

Stout, who is also a full-time Biddeford firefighter, is recovering at home, Jacques said.

“We have been trying to give a lot of support to both the Desjardins family and the Stout family,” Jacques said. “His family is hanging in there. It’s a difficult moment, and they’re doing their best. They’ve got a lot of hope and they’re there to support him.”

Desjardins grew up in Albion and graduated in 2014 from Lawrence High School. He is a student studying nursing at the University of New England, where he made the dean’s list during the fall 2016 semester, according to the university.

Prior to his part-time employment as an officer in Fryeburg, Desjardins was a volunteer member of the Albion Fire Department and was pursuing his EMT certification.

“I knew Nate very briefly as a colleague,” said Sean Esler, a captain in the Waterville Fire Department and a volunteer at the Albion department. “He obviously was a real good kid. Did anything you’d ask of him. He had a real great future ahead of him. His goal was public service.”

Desjardins was also applying for police work at the time of the crash, said Sgt. Josh Veilleux of the Waterville Police Department.

The day before Desjardins was injured, Waterville police had scheduled an interview with him, Veilleux said.

“He was in our hiring process,” Veilleux said. “I think he had fulfilled his requirement for part-time.”

Stout and Desjardins were called to the river when a woman’s canoe capsized and she did not immediately surface in the fast-moving current.

Stout had many years of rescue boat experience, Jacques said. It was Desjardins’ first day of training on boat operations, the Fryeburg police chief said previously.

The body of Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick, was found Tuesday in about eight feet of water, about 350 feet from where her canoe overturned.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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