ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Two hikers from Rutland, Mass., died after apparently falling about 100 feet off an ice-covered cliff on Dorr Mountain last Thursday afternoon.
The bodies of Kassandra Caceres, 30, and Wayne Beckford, 28, were found by searchers late Saturday morning.
The bodies were recovered by National Park Service (NPS) rangers working with MDI Search and Rescue (MDISAR) volunteers and a Maine Forest Service helicopter crew, according to Acadia spokesperson Jay Elhard.
NPS rangers and the Maine State Police have been investigating the incident with assistance from the Bar Harbor Police Department.
A search for the hikers was initiated Friday evening after family members reported them overdue, Elhard said. They had arrived in Bar Harbor on Tuesday and were last heard from Thursday around noon, when the woman told family members during a phone call that she was interested in hiking Cadillac Mountain.
Concern about the couple arose Friday afternoon because they had not checked out of their hotel as scheduled and had not returned to their vehicle.
An overnight search involved a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Cape Cod equipped with thermal imaging technology, which searched without success for sources of heat on the north and east sides of Dorr and Cadillac mountains. A ground search began Saturday morning.
Park rangers and MDISAR have been called on numerous times to rescue people in the past 12 months.
Last April, a woman was rescued after falling 20-30 feet off an oceanside cliff at the Cooksey Drive overlook in Seal Harbor, which is owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Two months later, a man was rescued after falling 30-40 feet at the same location.
There were several more rescues in and around the park over the summer. Then the Saturday before Labor Day, a woman from New Hampshire was seriously injured when she performed a “stunt jump” on her bicycle from a ledge on Day Mountain and crashed onto the carriage road below.
Also over Labor Day weekend, three hikers had to be rescued after suffering serious ankle injuries. Two young children and agroup of hikers were temporarily lost at different times and in different areas of the park. Park rangers had to hike Huguenot Head to retrieve hikers who were caught by darkness.
Acadia and MDISAR officials have said most accidents occur because hikers are inexperienced, they disregard the weather, they underestimate the difficulty of the trails and take unnecessary risks, or they don’t wear proper clothing or footwear.