Lost, and found, in the Maine Woods

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8 August 2012

VAN BUREN COVE – Six local residents participated in the rescue of a 12-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man from Canada near Van Buren Cove on Long Lake late at night on August 4.

According to Liza Lajoie of Madawaska, Francois and Pierre Chiasson of an unidentified town in Canada were visiting a camp on Long Lake not too far from her camp. The two men decided to go for a bicycle ride around the beach at Van Buren Cove around 8 p.m. They took an Irving woods road and lost their way, she said.

Lajoie and her friends were hanging out at her camp on Saturday night when someone noticed the faint sound of screaming. At first, she said, they didn’t pay much attention; sound travels far across the lake and distances are deceptive. When one member of the party noticed that the screaming seemed to be asking for help, the situation changed for the party-goers.

“It was bone-chilling,” she said. “We knew there was something wrong.”

Lajoie’s parents stayed back at the camp for communication and coordination, and five of her friends, Jonathan Chasse of Van Buren, Heath and Travis Chabre of Van Buren, Priscilla Lajoie of Van Buren, and Cecile Plourde of Frenchville, piled into a pickup truck with her. They chose the nearest Irving road that was headed in the right direction and drove into the woods.

Lajoie said that in hindsight, the spontaneous coordination that appeared among the rescuers was unexpected.

“Everybody had a job to do and we just did it,” she said.

Priscilla Lajoie is a nurse at Cary Medical Center and was prepared to issue medical assistance if needed. Lajoie herself, a funeral director in Madawaska, has some medical training as well.

About halfway down the road, they found the family members of the two missing men in the middle of the road near their camp. They informed the rescuers about what had happened. It had been some time since the two had left and the family was very concerned, said Lajoie.

Lajoie called 911 and notified the state police, who dispatch for Maine game wardens. As it turned out, their help was unnecessary.

Around 11:30 p.m., following the sound of the voices of the lost men and calling back and forth, the rescuers found the two men. They had wandered off the Irving road onto what Lajoie said looked like a very old four-wheeler trail. The group loaded the two men and their bikes into the pickup truck and returned them to their relieved family members.

“We were lucky we were able to hear them,” said Lajoie.

Due to the lay of the land, their own family members had been unable to hear their cries.

“We were in the right place at the right time,” she said. “We’re just happy everybody is okay.”