Fishermen Bruce Crowley (left) and Lenny Young rescued Jennifer Popper offshore in Corea June 22. Her husband, Michael Popper, and their Maine guide, Ed Brackett, drowned when a squall kicked up waves three-to-five-feet high and overturned their kayaks in 52 degree water. ISLANDER PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Two drown in kayak accident

PROSPECT HARBOR — Two kayakers died and one was rescued last week in the waters off Prospect Harbor. The victims and survivor were recovered approximately halfway between Cranberry Point in Gouldsboro and Petit Manan Island, according to Maine Marine Patrol reports. The victims were wearing T-shirts and shorts. All were wearing life jackets.

Killed in the accident were Ed Brackett, 63, a registered Maine kayak guide and Michael Popper, 54, of Plainfield, N.J. Both deaths were listed as accidental

Bruce Crowley's lobster boat, Cindy Lee. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Bruce Crowley’s lobster boat, Cindy Lee.

drowning, precipitated by hypothermia. Survivor Jennifer Popper, 48, of Plainfield, N.J., Michael’s wife, suffered from extreme hypothermia but survived.

The Coast Guard, Maine Marine Patrol and fishermen Bruce Crowley and Lenny Young, as well as others, had been searching for the three missing kayakers since about 6:30 p.m. on June 22, when Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in Portland received a report from a woman claiming her husband and two others went kayaking and did not return at 4:30 p.m. as planned. The kayakers reportedly put in at Corea around 1 p.m.

A brief but strong summer squall hit the area late Wednesday afternoon. According to Jennifer Popper, the trio encountered rough seas at some point during their day trip, likely caused by the passing weather front. The waves, reportedly 3-5 feet high, caused all three kayaks to capsize in the approximately 52 degree water.

A 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter air crew from Air Station Cape Cod launched. The Marine Patrol and several good Samaritans joined the search.

At about 8 p.m., a local lobster fisherman located Jennifer Popper clinging to the hull of an overturned kayak. She reportedly was hypothermic and unable to speak. The 47-foot motor life boat crew transferred her from the lobster boat to awaiting emergency medical services at Prospect Harbor. She was then taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

At about 8:38 p.m., another lobster fisherman found Brackett, who was unresponsive. They transferred him to paramedics at Prospect Harbor where he was later pronounced dead.

At approximately 10 p.m., Michael Popper, was located by another fisherman. Maine Marine Patrol personnel recovered him. He was transported to paramedics at Prospect Harbor where he also was pronounced dead.

“This is a very tragic outcome,” said Kenneth Stuart, the command duty officer at Sector North New England. “We deeply appreciate the efforts of those local boaters who assisted, and we’ll be working to determine what happened and how to prevent such accidents from occurring in the future.”

Reporter Jacqueline Weaver contributed to this story.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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