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January 7, 2010
Maine Warden Service Suspends Search for Missing China Snowmobiler; Issues Ice Warning
Augusta, Maine - The Maine Warden Service tonight suspended its search for 18-year-old Richard “Shaw” Jackson of China after an extensive six-day search for the snowmobiler who went missing Friday night, Jan. 1, 2010, en route home from a snowmobile repair shop.
Col. Joel Wilkinson, chief game warden, said the decision to suspend the search was discussed with Mr. Jackson’s family this evening.
Col. Wilkinson said the case will remain open and an investigator will be assigned to it. A Maine Warden Service pilot periodically will fly over China Lake and the area to look for any sign of Mr. Jackson.
Also, the Maine Warden Service is telling snowmobilers to stay off the ice on China Lake because of the expanses of open water in many parts of the lake and thin ice in other areas. Equipment used on the lake during the search contributed to some of the ice thinning, but the lake “is opening up on its own,” according to MWS Lt. Kevin Adam, search-and-rescue coordinator.
“No snowmobiling is permitted,” said Lt. Adam. “Snowmobilers need to wait until there is an extensive cold spell to lock in the ice. It’s just not safe.”
Mr. Jackson, 18, a junior at Erskine Academy, was last seen Friday between 8 and 9 p.m. when he left Pinkham Corner Fuel in China and headed home on his black Yamaha snowmobile. The Maine Warden Service was notified at 6 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010, that Mr. Jackson was missing, and an extensive search began during what later in the day became blizzard conditions that dropped 18 inches of snow in the area.
It was not known which route Mr. Jackson may have taken to get home. On Monday night, a Maine Warden Service pilot located from the air a set of snowmobile tracks that lead into open water on the west cove of China Lake. This area of the lake, approximately 300 acres, became a focal area for the search. There was no indication the tracks belonged to Mr. Jackson’s sled.
Col. Wilkinson and Lt. Adam said the search was suspended because cold weather conditions on the lake were putting searchers at risk, Also, the depth of the water, limitations of equipment in cold conditions, and the large search area were contributing factors in making the decision to suspend the search.
“In these conditions, it’s not feasible to do a water search,” according to Col. Wilkinson. “I’m not putting searchers at risk. Once the ice breaks, we’ll make a decision as to whether to send in the dive team to search the area.”
During the six-day search, the Maine Warden Service was assisted by members of 13 snowmobile clubs who traveled their clubs’ trails and searched camps, the South China Fire Department, Maine State Police and its investigations division, Maine Marine Patrol, Brewer Fire Department, and volunteers. New Hampshire Fish and Game helped in the search by sending over a team that used roving operating vehicle under the water.
A hovercraft, several airboats, airplanes, a helicopter, snowmobiles, and side-scan sonar equipment were used throughout the week.
“Mr. Jackson’s family was very appreciative of our efforts,” Col. Wilkinson said. “I would like to thank all of the people who gave of their time to try to find Mr. Jackson and bring him home to his family.”
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