UPDATE: Diver locates body of missing Thomaston man following extensive search
UPDATE, ST. GEORGE — The body of Paul Benner, of Thomaston, was recovered a little before noon today in Long Cove near Tenants Harbor after a diver located him in the water.
Maine State Police had been scanning the bottom with sonar today.
The dive team could not find a boat ramp that wasn’t covered in ice today, Jan. 8, and could not get a second boat in the water for the divers to use. While they were waiting for the sonar boat to finish scanning the bottom and transport divers to the search area, the Benner family asked Rockport diver Dallas Fields to search the bottom for Paul’s body.
“Paul Benner’s father launched a borrowed skiff and took me to where he thought Paul may have ended up,” said Fields, on Jan. 8. “I put my dive gear on and started swimming a grid pattern and found the body after about 20 minutes in the water. I tied a line to the body and came to the surface to let the State police know where the body was.”
His body was located approximately 500 feet to the east of the mudflat where his his clamming gear had been found, in about 15 feet of water.
After Fields found him, state police recovered Paul Benner’s body and transported him to shore.
The Marine Patrol, Maine State Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and good samaritans had searched the area for Paul Benner of Thomaston, who has been missing since last Thursday, Jan. 4.
Paul Benner was was reported missing last Thursday night a little before 11 p.m. He had been digging clams in Long Cove earlier that evening.
Maine’s Marine Patrol is continuing the search today, Jan. 8, for Paul Benner of Thomaston, who has been missing since Jan. 4. The Marine Patrol will concentrate its search in Long Cove near Tenants Harbor, where Benner was clamming before being reported missing. Marine Patrol will be using a side scan sonar today, the use of which has been hampered over the past few days due to ice. The Maine State Police/Marine Patrol Dive Team will also be on-scene, while Marine Patrol Pilot Steve Ingram is scheduled to conduct an aerial search today and Officers will be searching the shore along the perimeter of the Cove.
Search efforts for Paul Benner, of Thomaston, missing since Thursday night, have been suspended for the day and will resume in the coming days, depending on the weather, according to the Maine Marine Patrol.
The search today resumed at approximately 6:45 a.m. Marine Patrol Officers utilizing a 20 foot Polar Kraft searched the area of Long Cove in the vicinity of footprints, believed to be Benner's, found in the mud during Friday's search. A search was also conducted along the shore. Ice conditions and slush challenged today's search efforts.
Marine Patrol will be monitoring ice and weather conditions each day to determine and plan search efforts.
The search in Long Cove near Tenants Harbor today for Paul Benner, 33, of Thomaston, who was reported missing last night a little before 11 p.m., Jan. 4, has been suspended, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, at 7 p.m., Jan. 5.
Marine Patrol was notified by Knox County Sheriff's Office of the missing man, after his father had reported that he had failed to return from an evening trip to dig clams at low tide.
The astronomical low tide Jan. 4 during a fierce blizzard occurred just after 6 p.m.
Three Marine Patrol officers and Sgt. Matt Talbot were on-scene soon thereafter, with firefighters from St. George, Thomaston and South Thomaston, sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Coast Guard personnel.
The search was conducted in and along the shore of Long Cove. Benner's 16-foot skiff was recovered during the search last night. Marine Patrol temporarily suspended the search overnight but resumed it today at daylight.
The anchor belonging to Benner's skiff along with clam harvesting gear believed to be his were recovered this morning, Jan. 5, in the middle of Long Cove, which is exposed at low tide.
High tide last night was 12:57 a.m. Low tide this morning was at 6:55 am.
Benner departed from the Long Cove Boat Ramp at 5 p.m. to clam on Clark Island off Long Cove, and did not return later in the evening.
Three Coast Guard 47-foot boat crews from Coast Guard Stations Boothbay Harbor and Rockland searched overnight and through Friday.
Two helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod searched by air.
Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies and fire department volunteers conducted patrols, MMP, and State Police Dive Team assisted with searches in the water.
The Maine State Police/Marine Patrol Dive Team has been called in to participate in the search.
Firefighters from St. George, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Marine Patrol, Knox County Sheriff’s deputies and the Coast Guard are mounting a search for a clammer who was reported missing tonight after he failed to return home.
First responders are beginning their search near Long Cove, in St. George. Thomaston Fire Department responded with its utility rescue boat, and South Thomaston Fire Department with crews trained in cold water rescue.
Two other Good Samaritan boats are helping out with the search, as well. A boat from Coast Guard Station Rockland is anticipated to arrive at the scene.
Astronomical tides and a blizzard have created hazardous conditions and search crews are gearing up to walk the shoreline.
The clammer had been reported missing by his father; and his truck and skiff were subsequently located.
Low tide was at approximately 6 p.m.
This story will be updated when more details become available.