Divers find body of fisherman who drowned in Blake Lake

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24 April 2012

BLAKE LAKE – Divers have found the body of Ron Toussaint, 57, of Eagle Lake, who drowned after a boating accident on Monday night in Blake Lake near Eagle Lake, Maine.

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 Divers load their gear after a dive Tuesday morning to locate the body of a missing boater. - Julie Daigle image

According to Lt. Tom Ward of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Division, Toussaint was fishing with his friend, Jason Dube, 37, of Eagle Lake, in a 12-foot motorboat.  Toussaint was in back and Dube was in the front of the boat.  At around 6:30 p.m., the boat capsized 75 yards from shore.  Authorities have not said why the boat capsized.

Neither of the men were wearing life jackets, but Dube made it to shore. He called the accident into the state police as soon as he drove far enough out of the woods to get cell reception.

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Wardens Sibley and Milligan pull the capsized fishing boat to shore. - image courtesy of the Maine Wardens Service

Authorities received notification of the accident at approximately 7:45 p.m., and first responders were on the scene by 9 p.m.  The small lake is difficult to reach by vehicle.

Five wardens searched until 12:30 p.m. Monday night.  Ward said, "Typically when we get a call, we don't know if the victim made it to shore, so they searched the shoreline first. They try to get a good PLS (point last seen)."

The search that night was unsuccessful, although Ward said wardens were present at the lake for most of the night.

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Corporal Mike Joy, Wardens Bruce Loring and Mike Pierre (in the water) - image courtesy of the Maine Wardens Service

Ward said, "Logistically, this was a tough search. The roads are bad, communication is poor, and the travel time for the dive team was long." He said some of the dive team members left their homes at midnight on the evening of the accident. One of the dive team members came from as far south as Portland.

Divers were at the scene by 8:30 a.m. the following morning. Retired Warden Gary Dumond performed an aerial search in the warden service's plane.

The dive team found the body quickly, shortly before 10 a.m.

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Lt. Warden Tom Ward from the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Ashland branch and members of the dive team from across the state load equipment into trucks at Blake Lake. - Julie Daigle image

Ward said, "We found him on the first tank." Divers located Toussaint in 14 feet of water.

Authorities had notified family members the night before, and they were on hand when divers removed the body and sent it to the funeral home.

Ward said, "It's good for the family.  It puts some closure on this."

Ward stressed the importance of wearing life jackets when boating.

"I can't say enough about wearing PFDs," said Ward. "You might be a strong swimmer, but it doesn't take long to lose feeling in your arms and legs."

He said two weeks ago in southern Maine, officials recorded water temperatures of 38 degrees.

"It slows you down. Your muscles just don't work."

Fourteen wardens, including the dive teams, were involved in the search and recovery.

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are still investigating the accident.

Blake Lake is east of Eagle Lake in T16 R6.

Comments

Sad News

I'm very sorry to hear about Ron. He lived down the street from me and he did a lot of excavating for me when we built our home there in 1998. Even with a life jacket the water is so cold at this time of the year it would have been difficult for him to make it to shore. Luckily Mr. Dube made it. My deepest sympathies to his family.

Sad News about Ron Toussaint

Very sorry to hear about Ron. We have been friends for many many years. We first met around 1969 when our family would come up from NJ to vacation. My parents had bought some land from his parents along the lake. He will be deeply missed. Our prayers go out to the family. Bill Gehring and family

When a Great Man Dies, the Community Mourns.

Ron Toussaint. I've been hearing that name since I was just a kid. Ron was a well known member of our community, and was always around to lend a helping hand. There was never a dull moment when he was around, always cracking jokes, and keeping the people laughing.He's definitely going to be missed. Thoughts and prayers going out to Travis, Kacey, and the rest of the family.