GREENVILLE, Maine — A group of game warden trainees happened to be in the right place and time during Tuesday’s severe winter storm, swooping in to rescue a couple and two children stranded on frozen Moosehead Lake.
Greenville resident Ruby Goodmen, 31, and Joseph Wentworth, 32, of Orland were ice fishing with two children and their dog on Tuesday.
They were separated after deciding Goodmen would take the 5-year-old, wet from the day’s activities, and the dog home. Wentworth and the 2-year-old said they would catch up after collecting the fishing gear, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
“Very quickly, the weather got worse,” the department said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “At nearly the same time, Goodmen’s snowmobile broke down before she could get home, and due to whiteout conditions from the heavy snow and high winds, Wentworth could not see well enough to drive to them.”
The adults called 911 and reported that they were stranded because the weather on the lake was only getting worse. The snow was coming down quickly, covering existing snowmobile tracks.
The Maine Advanced Warden School had trainees in the area, including Maine Game Warden and Passamaquoddy Warden groups. Though they ended their day early, they received the call about stranded people on Moosehead Lake’s west side around 9:15 p.m.
About half of the warden class was staying at a camp on the west side, according to the department. They worked with Bangor’s communications center to estimate the location of Goodmen, Wentworth and the children, relying on GPS coordinates transmitted through the 911 calls.
Goodmen was about 800 yards from shore, and Wentworth was two miles from her, the department said.
Two game wardens, Joshua Polland and Chad Robertson, led the rescue effort. They split trainees into two groups, then led them through the process, bringing everyone to shore in about 45 minutes.
“At the time they were found, both children were wet and shivering and wrapped in blankets,” the department said. “The group was transported back to the camp, where everyone warmed up, and the camp provided a vehicle for the couple, children and dog to get home safely.”