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March 23, 2009
Pennsylvania Couple Dies in Moosehead Lake
Augusta, Maine - A Pennsylvania couple that left a Greenville area hotel on Thursday morning for a snowmobile ride was found this afternoon in Moosehead Lake, according to the Maine Warden Service.
Maine Warden Service Game Wardens travel by airboat during recovery mission on Moosehead Lake.
Clifford Achenbach, 41, and Denise Achenbach, 42, from Pen Argyl, Pa., left the Moose Mountain Inn in Moosehead Junction Township, north of Greenville, on Thursday, March 16, to ride on trails north of the town, and told a hotel attendant they were going “exploring” Maine’s outdoors.
Maine Warden Service Game Wardens Mike Favreau, Dan Carroll and Eric Dauphinee begin the recovery of Clifford and Denise Achenbach of Pen Argyl, Penn.
The couple was located at approximately 12:45 p.m. today (March 23, 2009) on Moosehead Lake above the East Outlet dam by a Maine Forest Service helicopter that was manned by MFS Forest Ranger Pilots Shawn Rogers and Lincoln Mazzei and MWS Sgt. Bill Chandler and Game Warden Mike Morrison.
Mr. and Mrs. Achenbach were recovered from Moosehead Lake shortly before 4 p.m., and transported to Crosby Funeral Home in Guilford, where they will be evaluated Tuesday morning.
The Achenbachs’ family was notified of the deaths when it arrived in Greenville from Pennsylvania after 4 p.m. today. Maine Warden Service Chaplain Kate Braestrup was available to help the family.
The Achenbachs had checked into the Moose Mountain Inn on March 16, and planned to stay until Saturday, March 21. Earlier in the week, Mr. Achenbach told a hotel worker that the couple had ridden to Pittston Farm and Northeast Carry.
The Maine Warden Service received the missing persons report at 7:30 a.m. today, March 23, 2009. Family members in Pennsylvania, concerned that the couple had not arrived home over the weekend, called the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office, which notified the Maine Warden Service.
Fifteen Game Wardens and two MWS aircraft searched for the couple. The Maine Forest Service assisted in the search with its helicopter because that aircraft is able to position itself closer to bodies of water.
The area where the couple was located today has been the scene of snowmobile-related fatalities in the past, according to MWS Lt. Pat Dorian. Open water and thin ice are normal conditions here as the water is continuously moving due to the following reasons: Moosehead Lake feeds into the East Outlet of the Kennebec River, creating headwaters; and as winter progresses, water is drawn down to feed the Dam at East Outlet, a hydroelectric generator. If a snowmobiler is unfamiliar with the area, they could encounter thin ice or open water as close to a quarter-mile before the dam.
Some of the fatalities have occurred at night, according to Lt. Dorian. Snowmobilers are drawn to the lights on the dam and at sporting camps on the other side of the dam. Sledders focused on heading towards the lights to get off of the lake may have believed they would be traveling on solid ice towards shore, only to encounter thin ice or open water, the Lieutenant said.
The time of the Achenbachs’ deaths is not known, according to Lt. Dorian.
Eight people have died in snowmobile-related incidents this season, which began mid-December 2008.
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