Search for Missing Maine Canoeist Now Recovery Mission

The search for a woman who went missing while canoeing in the Saco River in Fryeburg, Maine, is now a recovery mission, and one of the first responders who tried to save her is hospitalized in critical condition.

Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick, went missing Saturday when she fell out of a canoe that capsized in the river. Wayne Demers, 62, of Somerworth, New Hampshire, and Brian Day, 54, of South Berwick, also fell out of the canoe, but made it to safety.

Officials said alcohol was a factor and Bousquet was not wearing a life jacket.

Two Fryeburg police officers attempted to perform a water rescue, but their police boat crashed near the shore, injuring Officer Dale Stout, 51, and Officer Nathan Desjardins, 20.

Stout was released from the hospital Monday, according to Fryeburg Police Chief Joshua Potvin. “We wish him a full and speedy recovery,” said Potvin.

Desjardins is still in “extremely critical” condition at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. “Nate and his family continue to be in our thoughts and prayers,” said Chief Potvin.

Desjardins had just joined the police department three months ago, and this weekend was his first day in the field.

The Warden Service said water conditions this weekend, including cold temperatures, and a fast current, made the river dangerous.

The search and recovery mission is being conducted cautiously, according to Lt. Timothy Place.

“There’s a lot of current, and a lot of debris in the river,” said Place. “There are some places we cannot search right now.”

The events of the weekend have left some witnesses shaken. Paul Wall was paddling nearby, and heard the impact of the police boat crash and officers screams.

He said he paddled in the direction of the sound, and found Stout and Desjardins severely injured.

“When you look at the two officers, you look at one and know he’s got a chance,” said Wall. “When you look at the other, and you don’t know, you have to make a decision to help the one [first]. That was the hardest part for me — was to decide who to save. It’s terrible.”

Contact Us