Hundreds of law enforcement officers from Maine and across the nation are expected to gather Friday in Augusta to pay tribute to the Fryeburg police officer who died from the injuries he suffered during a rescue effort on the Saco River last month.

Fryeburg Police Chief Joshua Potvin and the Maine Warden Service announced Tuesday that the memorial tribute in honor of Officer Nathan Desjardins, who was 20, will be held at the Augusta Civic Center beginning at 10 a.m. Friday.

Desjardins died June 6 at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, eight days after the Fryeburg Police Department’s motorized jet boat he was riding in struck a submerged object in the Saco River. Desjardins suffered severe head injuries in the crash. The jet boat’s operator, Fryeburg police officer Dale Stout, is recovering from his injuries.

Desjardins and Stout were responding to a call for help on May 27 after a canoe overturned. It happened to be Desjardins’ first day of water rescue training.

Two of the canoeists made it safely to shore while a third – Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick – drowned. She was not wearing a life jacket. Bousquet’s body was recovered four days after the boating accident.

Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said Desjardins’ death was Maine’s 85th law enforcement death in the line of duty.

“We do anticipate a large contingency of law enforcement and emergency services personnel from Maine and around the country to take in Friday’s tribute,” MacDonald said in statement.

More than 120 people, mostly law enforcement officers, posted comments on the Officer Down Memorial Page, a national website about officers who have died in the line of duty, regarding Desjardins’ sacrifice.

“We at the Oxford County Jail send our thoughts and prayers to the family of this hero. This young man made the ultimate sacrifice in order to help others. You are the true hero,” Sgt. William Grover wrote. “To our brothers at Fryeburg PD, keep your heads up and march on.”

“You helped make this world a safer place to live. May God grant you eternal peace,” wrote Billy Russo, a retired Nassau County (New York) police detective.

MacDonald said the tribute, which should last about an hour, is a private, invitation-only event at the request of Desjardins’ family.

Desjardins, who grew up Albion, graduated with academic honors from Lawrence High School in 2014. He was working as an EMT and reserve Fryeburg police officer at the time of his death, using the money he earned from those jobs to pay for his college education.

He had just completed his third year of study at the University of New England’s School of Nursing, according to his obituary. During his sophomore year, Desjardins studied abroad, spending a semester in Spain, where he learned how to play the violin.

“He was a focused individual who wanted to make a difference in this world by contributing whatever he could, whenever he could,” his family wrote in his obituary.

Desjardins was born in Waterville, the son of Nicole (Proulx) Desjardins and Brian Desjardins. He is survived by his parents, his brother, Ross Desjardins, and his grandmother, Susan Proulx


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