Maine Warden Service officials search Messalonskee Lake in Belgrade on Monday after two men were presumed to have drowned there. The bodies were recovered Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy of Maine Warden Service

There was never a dull moment when Mike and Brandon Breton worked together at their family’s restaurant.

“He was always busy and always cracking jokes,” Mike Breton said in an interview Tuesday of his son.

Brandon Breton, 21, of Vassalboro and Joseph Mayo, 19, of Rome were swimming with two other male friends off a pontoon boat on Messalonskee Lake in the early afternoon Monday when they became separated from the boat and presumably drowned.

The bodies were recovered by divers Tuesday morning in approximately 36 feet of water, about 300 yards northwest of Greeley Island, according to Mark Latti, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

Brandon Breton was a business partner with his parents, Mike and Susan, at Sandy Point Seafood in Augusta. Mike Breton said his son was interested in art, computers and photography, but was a dedicated worker from a young age. Breton attended Erskine Academy in South China but did not graduate, according to the school. Mayo is a 2019 graduate.

Breton and Mayo were swimming with two other male friends off a pontoon boat when a strong gust of wind pushed the boat away from the swimmers, authorities said. Two of the men swam to the boat, but Breton and Mayo “went under and never resurfaced,” the department said.

Brandon Breton, 21, drowned on Messalonskee Lake Monday. Photo courtesy of Mike Breton

The Maine Warden Service commenced a dive search for Breton and Mayo beginning Monday. The incident was reported to officials around 12:45 p.m. Monday near state Route 8 and Greeley Island in north Belgrade. However, the service staged at the Sidney Boat Launch off Hosta Lane, accessible via state Route 23 or Pond Road.

The warden service searched an 80-acre area of the 3,500-acre lake using side-scan sonar equipment by boat and brought in air and dive search teams. Game wardens had focused the search there based upon the GPS location of the 911 call, and interviews with the two surviving men, according to Latti.

According to a release from the warden service, the bodies were located at approximately 2 a.m. and recovered during the daylight between 8:15-8:30 a.m. Belgrade, Sidney and Oakland fire departments assisted on the search.

“I think with the warm weather everybody’s eager to get in the water, but the water temps are a lot colder than people expect,” Latti said. “Know your abilities as a swimmer whenever you go into the water this time of year.”

Game Warden Lt. Dan Menard said the cold water temperatures can affect a person’s ability to swim and stressed that boaters should wear life jackets and swimmers should know their abilities and the area.

Mike Breton said the pontoon boat was owned by one of the friends who swam back. He declined to share the name of the friends.

Mayo’s family declined comment for this story.

“All four of them were best friends,” Breton said. “Brandon and Joey went to school together, but the four pack of them were best friends … They did everything together.”

Appended: This story has been updated to correct Breton’s connection with Erskine Academy in South China. 

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