Canoeist’s body recovered from Panther Pond in Raymond

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Searchers Friday morning convened on Panther Pond in Raymond to find Christopher Hughes of Connecticut. Divers from the Maine Warden Service found Hughes' body in 16 feet of water. 

RAYMOND — Divers from the Maine Warden Service recovered the body of a Connecticut man in Panther Pond Friday morning about 200 feet offshore. The man had gone missing while canoeing the night before.

According to Cpl. John MacDonald of the Warden Service, 52-year-old Christopher Hughes of Trumbull, Connecticut, was canoeing with a friend about 10 p.m. Thursday near the eastern shore of the pond when he was heard calling for help.

“He was with his friend in a separate canoe, they were relatively close to one another, and his friend did hear him hollering for help,” but wasn’t able to get to him in time, MacDonald said at a press conference Friday morning at the Raymond fire station.

Hughes’ body was found in about 16 feet of water, officials said.

His friend, identified by the Warden Service as David Donahue, was also his coworker.

The initial rescue call went to the Raymond Fire Department, which was first on the scene and eventually transitioned the search to the wardens, according to Raymond Fire Chief Bruce Tupper. MacDonald said the Warden Service received a call around 11 p.m. Thursday and then joined the fire department at Panther Pond.

“We have had game wardens there most all night, looking in the area. There’s a limited amount of things you can do in the water, so we called our dive team at night, and they were ready to go this morning,” MacDonald said.. Wardens also had an aircraft searching.

Hughes’ overturned canoe was found early Friday morning, and divers were brought in to continue the search.

According to the the Warden Service, Hughes and several of his coworkers, including Donahue, were staying at a camp off of Sloan’s Cove Road that is owned by the family of one of the coworkers. The group was staying at the camp while working construction in New Hampshire, the release said.

The Warden Service didn’t know Friday morning how Hughes ended up in the water. MacDonald would not rule out a medical event and when asked, said investigators are also looking at alcohol involvement as a possibility.

Hughes did not have a life jacket on or with him when he was found, officials said.

“We encourage people to wear their life jackets, not just have them with them,” MacDonald said. “This seems to be, at least right now, another incident where someone – their life probably could have been saved if they were wearing a life jacket.”

Hughes’ body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta.

Searchers Friday morning convened on Panther Pond in Raymond to find Christopher Hughes of Connecticut. Divers from the Maine Warden Service found Hughes’ body in 16 feet of water.

A Maine Warden heads out after the search ended Friday morning for 52-year-old Christopher Hughes of Connecticut. Hughes’ body was found in Raymond’s Panther Pond.
Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service provides an update on the search for missing canoeist Christopher Hughes Friday morning.
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