River vultures rule roost; [All Edition]



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River vultures rule roost; [All Edition]

John Holyoke. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Apr 19, 2005. pg. 4


Full Text (919   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to the weather spectators endure at the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

Though I'm sure that over the 39 years Bangor has held the race, there have been many average, forgettable days, those days are ... well, forgettable.

The ones we remember are either snowy and brutally cold, or wonderfully sunny and warm, like this year's edition.

How nice was it on the banks of Kenduskeag Stream on Saturday? This nice: Even the river vultures were trying to get a tan.

At least two of them were.

Trista Jernigan and Megan Butler of Old Town said they showed up at Six Mile Falls to watch a friend paddle.

Of course, they didn't know what kind of boat the man was paddling, nor whether he'd even made it through the falls.

"We came to tan," Butler finally admitted, pointing out that the day was just too nice to spend indoors.

Both said they enjoyed playing the part of river vultures who cheer the misfortune of those participating in the race.

"I feel bad for making fun of 'em, but it's pretty funny," Jernigan said with a laugh.

Nearby, a much younger river vulture showed an advanced aptitude when it came to the ins and outs of the vulture culture.

"This way! Come this way!" yelled William Jackson, who lives in the Knox County town of Washington.

In this case, "this way" was the wrong way ... as Jackson well knew. The youngster just wanted to make things a bit more interesting for him and his fellow vultures by luring paddlers into more perilous water.

"Well, it's simple," he said. "You want 'em to fall over. It's more fun for us."

Whether they get bad advice from the vultures or not, there are plenty of hazards in Kenduskeag Stream. Don't believe it? Just ask Peter Leach of Penobscot.

Leach had plenty of time to talk Saturday afternoon as he waited to see if safety personnel could retrieve his canoe ... which looked more like a reef after it wedged into the rocks on the right side of the river.

The worst part for Leach wasn't the cold water nor the frequent shrieks of the vultures. It was wondering if the dry bag he attached to a seat was still intact ... and still dry.

"It's got our cell phones in it, car keys, all that good stuff," he said.

At last report, Leach was still standing among the tanning vultures, waiting for the stream to give up its latest prize.
Ice out at Green; Alligator close

Harry "Bud" Moore of Ellsworth checked in Monday with a couple pieces of information you may find worthwhile.

First was an e-mail list of ice-out dates for Green Lake dating back to 1935. The second was news on this year's ice-out date.

The more time I spend fishing (and the more winters I spend wondering exactly when my local spots will de-ice), the more attention I pay to those who've been around long enough to have a historical perspective on such things.

Moore's list - compiled now for the Dedham Historical Society by Joe Jenkins of Jenkins Beach fame - was just the kind of information I've been seeking.

So, too, was his update on one of my favorite lakes.

"Ice went out [Sunday]," Moore told me when I called him back.

Ice-out on Green Lake, he explained, isn't often an all-or- nothing event. Sometimes he talks with Jenkins - whose home is on the north end of the lake in Dedham - and finds that the ice-free conditions that prevail in Ellsworth aren't lake-wide.

So when ice went out on the south end of the lake Sunday, Moore decided to do a bit more research.

"I got in my boat and went up the lake yesterday, and sure enough, the ice was there," he said.

Not to worry, however.

"Joe [Jenkins] called at 4:30 and said [the ice] had just gone out on his end," Moore said.

Moore said it didn't take long for anglers to launch boats and begin trolling the lake, which boasts great lake trout fishing and is a historic producer of nice salmon.

Moore said fishermen seemed to have a slower time than they'd hope, however.

One possible explanation, he said: The fish are eating well without relying on the temptations anglers dangle in front of them.

"Every fish we caught all winter was just full of smelts," he said.

If you share my interest in ice-out data, here's a tidbit for you: According to the chart Moore forwarded me, the earliest ice- out for Green Lake over the past 70 years is March 29 (in 1953). The latest came on May 7, 1939.

In other ice-out news, Lorin Lecleire of Clifton e-mailed to say that one of the area's top landlocked salmon waters won't be iced in for much longer.

"Alligator [Lake] should be clear this week," Lecleire wrote. "The lake itself is clear, but ice has blown to [the] landing, stopping one from putting a boat in."

Another word from Lecleire: Smelts are beginning their spring runs in some streams he visits each year. That means those who have a favorite smelting spot might want to take a late-night stroll sometime soon.

Before you do, make sure you check the state's book of fishing rules and regulations to learn the laws that may be in effect.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.net or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.


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Hampden man who fell into stream still missing; [All Edition]

AIMEE DOLLOFF, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: May 31, 2005. pg. 2


Full Text (296   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

HAMPDEN - A Hampden man who fell Sunday afternoon into the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor is still missing.

Joseph Majeau, 77, was walking along the Kenduskeag Stream shore with his wife when he slipped and fell into the stream. Majeau fell in the vicinity of Valley Avenue, just below the bridge.

Although it wasn't a long fall, the swift current quickly carried Majeau downstream, according to Bangor fire officials.

"Evidently there was an attempt by a passer-by to rescue him," Cpl. Chris Bailey of the Hampden Police Department said Monday. That attempt, however, was unsuccessful and Bangor rescue crews were called in around 3:30 p.m.

Bangor police and fire crews responded to the original rescue call, but Hampden police took over the case.

"We were notified several hours later [on Sunday] that the gentleman was from Hampden," Bailey said. Hampden police put out a missing persons report and spoke Monday with some of Majeau's family members.

Search and rescue efforts Sunday afternoon went on for more than two hours.

After receiving the call, Bangor fire crews put two men in the water behind the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building. The two walked up to where Majeau fell into the stream but found nothing.

Looking for Majeau, a LifeFlight helicopter surveyed the stream and the Penobscot River that it empties into, but that attempt was unsuccessful.

The search continued Monday, but by nightfall, no signs of Majeau were found.

"Basically, what we've done today is we've checked various locations along the [Penobscot River]," Bailey said. Police were searching various locations to look for signs that Majeau may have been able to climb out of the water.

"We're holding out hope that he was able to hold onto some ledge or hold onto something for safety," Bailey said.

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Search continues for Hampden man's body; [All Edition]

DOUG KESSELI, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jun 1, 2005. pg. 1


Full Text (777   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

BANGOR - As searchers expanded their efforts Tuesday to find a Hampden man who was swept away two days earlier in Kenduskeag Stream, hopes dimmed for his safe return.

Missing is Joseph Majeau, 77, a retired minister with the Unitarian Universalist Association, who went into the water on Sunday while walking with his wife along the stream. The search is expected to continue today.

Throughout the day, searchers used canoes and 16-foot poles to prod deep eddies of quieter water along the fast-moving Kenduskeag Stream, while boats continued to patrol the Penobscot River, as far down as Verona, looking for Majeau's body.

A searcher perched with binoculars near the Sea Dog restaurant watched the surface of the Penobscot River for any sign of Majeau, a flash of the blue and tan clothing that he was wearing.

The cloudy weather and murky waters of the stream prevented searchers from using a plane to search the river from 500 feet above it. Water conditions also curbed divers' efforts to search under the surface.

Two days into the search, authorities had little hope that Majeau was still alive, turning the search mission into a recovery effort, said Richard Bowie, director of the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute. DEEMI is the volunteer agency now spearheading the search effort that includes local and state agencies.

"After he is gone 24 to 36 hours, it becomes a recovery," Bowie said Tuesday, as he stood on the banks of the Kenduskeag Stream where Majeau went into the water and where a family member and a bystander tried to rescue him.

It's not clear what happened on Sunday, but witnesses reported that earlier Sunday, Majeau had to be pulled over a wooden railing he had climbed over and that later, it appeared he had headed toward the water as he walked beside the stream with his wife.

Majeau reportedly went into the water near where 14th Street Extension meets Valley Avenue along the stream.

Little remains to mark the initial frantic efforts by the rescuers who had converged Sunday at the stream's edge to try to find the man.

Two small, bright orange flags are fastened to a branch of a fallen tree signifying where his wife and a bystander tried to pull Majeau from the water. About 150 feet downstream, in a small clump of thin trees at a curve in the stream, is another marker, this one designating the last place Majeau was seen.

Searchers say Majeau's body could be anywhere, from a few feet from where he last was seen to down the Penobscot River or even farther.

To get an idea about how far a body could travel under existing conditions and to help identify where to search, a white detergent bottle, half filled with water, was released into the stream Monday. Intended to act the way a human body might, the plastic container made it to the Penobscot River, about a mile away, within half an hour, Bowie said.

Search conditions were improving Tuesday. The stream, murky and muddy from runoff water, had subsided a bit. Bright green grass beside a paler shade on the bank showed where water once covered the bank.

Bowie estimated that on Tuesday, the stream was 2 feet shallower, and in some places it was 5 to 10 feet narrower than on Sunday.

In light of the improved search conditions, searchers renewed the idea of using a plane today to take pictures of the stream. They will be put together to form a topographical map to identify search areas as well as danger spots.

A dive team, consisting of local and state law enforcement officials, including the Maine State Police and the Maine Marine Patrol, may try today to search the eddies of the Kenduskeag, although officials said Tuesday they will have to see what conditions a new day brings.

"It won't be done until there's no chance of getting someone hurt," Sgt. John Williams of the Marine Patrol said Tuesday. Williams was on the scene Tuesday, although the marine patrol has not formally been called in.

Other volunteers offered their help. Kayaker Chad Bissonnette, 29, of Bangor was paddling on the Kenduskeag Stream and approached Bowie, agreeing to keep a look out for any signs of the missing man as he headed down the stream.

With DEEMI members involved in other searches in the state, including in Washington and Aroostook counties, Bowie said they have been frustrated by the lack of progress, but the searchers will continue, using the night to develop plans and for some much needed sleep.

"They're up marshaling resources, and at first light they're out doing it again," Bowie said.

* * * * *


Wife recounts Bangor stream tragedy; [All Edition]

DOUG KESSELI, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jun 3, 2005. pg. 1


Full Text (723   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

This article ran on page B8 in the State and Coastal editions.

BANGOR - Minutes before Joseph Majeau slipped into the Kenduskeag Stream and disappeared last Sunday, the 77-year-old Hampden man climbed through the railing on a wooden platform overlooking the stream to get a better look at the rushing water below.

Always curious and active, Majeau had never lost the youthful spark for life, even though he was facing the hardships of Parkinson's disease, according to his family. After he was pulled back from the railing, all he could tell his questioning wife about what drove him to such a precarious perch was, "I guess it was the little boy in me," Sue Majeau remembered Thursday.

Sue Majeau has returned several times in the company of family to where her husband fell in, hoping his body would be found, grateful to searchers for all they have done to try to find it.

Searchers haven't given up, and on Thursday they continued to search farther down the stream, down the Penobscot River and into the ocean.

In the early afternoon, with the sun high in the sky, a single- engine plane flew over the stream looking for anything out of the ordinary, said Richard Bowie, director of the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, which is heading up the search effort. The sun helped searchers in the sky peer deeper into the water.

"It's like putting a spotlight on the bottom," Bowie said. Another plane, a twin-engine Beach Baron, searched the coastline about 20 miles out into Penobscot Bay, and a Coast Guard Auxiliary boat also searched the waters in the bay.

The couple had been drawn to the stream Sunday afternoon. The movement of the rushing, frothy water and the sound it made called to them, said Sue Majeau.

As they walked along the banks of the stream, swollen from rain and runoff, Majeau wanted a better look at the water and he stepped closer, his wife of 22 years said as she sat at a table in their home with some candid photographs of her husband on the table.

It was slippery. The retired minister fell in and was pulled farther out by the fast-moving water.

A passer-by jumped into the water and grabbed for Majeau, but the water was too much, and he lost his grip. The man, whose identity is not being released, waded back to shore, crying and apologizing to Sue Majeau.

"'Ma'am, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry I couldn't hold him,'" Majeau said the man told her.

Later, the man's 10-year-old boy gave her a small bouquet of dandelions he had picked and told her he was sorry for what she was going through.

Grieving for her husband has been made more difficult without a body found.

"It's a strange, strange feeling," Majeau said. There's no closure, and it has brought a deeper understanding of how people with family missing in action or who died in 9-11 feel, she said. It's hard to describe and difficult to try.

But with daughter Marci Gaglioni, 49, of Texas and granddaughter Wynnona Gardiner, 31, of Michigan with her, they preferred to talk about warmer memories and how Majeau faced adversity yet kept a youthful curiosity and appreciation for life.

He kept two baseball gloves and a ball in his car, "just in case" he wound up in a park and there was someone there who wanted to play catch.

"He just had a childlike fascination with life," his wife said.

For Gardiner, the oldest of nine grandchildren, the memory that keeps coming back is the time 10 to 12 years ago when she and the family went to a fair. While other members balked at the idea of riding the high-flying Ferris wheel, Majeau took up his granddaughter's offer and rode with her. They were laughing like kids.

"We were cracking up, having so much fun," she said.

Sue Majeau said she and her husband always looked for the good in people. She wasn't let down this week as people she didn't know tackled the arduous job of trying to rescue then to recover her husband's body. Sometimes they were even putting their own lives at risk, and she said she's grateful.

"It's obvious that they're not just doing a job, they're doing it with caring and compassion," she said.

* * * * *
Searchers hopeful about finding man; [All Edition]

DOUG KESSELI, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jun 4, 2005. pg. 6


Full Text (397   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

BANGOR - As the waters of the Kenduskeag Stream continued to recede Friday, hopes for finding the body of a missing Hampden man were increasing, a search official said.

Searchers have eliminated some areas. Improved conditions, including sun and shallower waters, are expected make the search easier.

"The chances of finding him increase each day," said Richard Bowie, director of the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, the volunteer search agency on Friday.

Since Sunday, when retired minister Joe Majeau, 77, fell into the stream, water levels have dropped 3 feet, exposing more of the shore and stream bottom, he said.

"We're able to walk into areas you wouldn't even begin to think of during the initial search," Bowie said.

And with passage of nearly a week, Bowie said, a body under water becomes more buoyant.

Searchers on foot walked Friday along the streamside, looking for signs of the body. A plane is expected to resume its search from the air today.

Searchers aren't discounting that Majeau was carried quickly down to the Penobscot River, before they could cordon off the Kenduskeag Stream where it reaches the river.

The Bangor harbor master searched Friday along the river down to the Hampden Marina, while a second boat searched further down to the ocean, Bowie said.

A twin engine Beach Baron plane, used by DEEMI, is expected to return to the air today and check along the jagged coastline of Penobscot Bay.

"Maine provides us with that unique problem with a weaving coastline that has to be examined," Bowie said.

Searchers are frustrated and also anxious, but Bowie said they also are determined and realize it may take longer to find Majeau.

The body of a canoeist lost in a May 7 storm in Cathance Lake in Washington County still has not been found.

And Bowie noted that the search resumed this spring for a 79- year-old man missing since last fall in the woods in Whiting.

If the body of the Hampden man isn't recovered, the volunteer search agency on Tuesday will bring in a second coordinator, Susanne Kynast, who is out of state working on another search effort in Indianapolis.

A sea kayak instructor and environmental educator, Kynast is a "cold case worker" and will go over the search from its start, Bowie said. A model she developed helped find wreckage in the Cathance Lake case, he said.

* * * *
Teens aid in search for missing man Rescue volunteers scour Kenduskeag Stream for clues in disappearance; [All Edition]

ERIC RUSSELL, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jun 6, 2005. pg. 5


Full Text (501   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

BANGOR - The search for a Hampden man who fell into the Kenduskeag Stream a week ago continued Sunday with the help of young but eager volunteers.

Members of Dirigo Search and Rescue, an Orono-based youth volunteer group, spent most of Sunday afternoon scouring a one-mile stretch of the Kenduskeag where Joseph Majeau, 77, was last seen.

Majeau, a retired minister who suffered from Parkinson's disease, fell into the water on Sunday, May 29, while walking with family and hasn't since been seen.

Although the rescue mission has turned into a recovery effort, the few who continue to search for the man are taking that effort seriously.

Four-person teams with members ranging from age 12 to 18 walked the left bank of the river and circled around to explore the right side.

The teenagers who volunteered Sunday said they're not so much looking for a body, but rather for clues that might help piece things together.

"We'll stay here until the job is done," Peter Christensen, 17, of Bangor said late Sunday.

Christensen, Brett Vigue, 16, and Andrew Spruce, 18, also of Bangor, didn't have much luck with their search, but said they were happy to help. They did find a hat, but whether or not it belonged to Majeau was not clear.

Richard Bowie, director of the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, has been involved since officials decided there was little hope of finding Majeau alive.

Bowie has coordinated ground searches and DEEMI's single-engine plane has been flying over the stream for several days without any sight of a body. Bowie said the lack of information is frustrating.

"The clues are not readily there," he said. "We're trying to eliminate this area of the Kenduskeag, but in reality, he could be as far as the ocean by now."

Bowie coordinated with Dirigo Search and Rescue to get a few more pairs of eyes down by the water and said the teens were doing a great job.

"It's nice that people have the time to do this," Bowie continued. "Now it's really just a matter of resolving things with the family. ... It's such a tragedy to lose someone this way."

When Majeau fell into the stream, the water level was about 4 feet higher than it was Sunday. Bowie said if the elderly man had fallen in any other time, he probably would have been rescued.

"Timing is everything," he said.

Earlier Sunday, a boater on the Penobscot River contacted authorities to report something floating in the river. Bowie said others had contacted him with similar information, but when Hampden police sent a boat out, the item was determined to be a drowned dog and not Majeau.

"We tried to track it down, but we never found it," Hampden police Sgt. Scott Weber said Sunday. "It was definitely clear that it was a dog in speaking to a witness."

Weber said nobody has reported a missing dog, but expressed concerns about how a dead dog ended up in the river.


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Body of missing man located Hampden resident who fell into stream found in Penobscot River; [All Edition]

DOUG KESSELI, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jun 9, 2005. pg. 3


Full Text (631   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

BANGOR - Firefighters and rescue workers recovered the body of a Hampden man early Wednesday morning from the Penobscot River, ending a 10-day search for the retired minister who had fallen into the Kenduskeag Stream that feeds into the river.

The body of Joseph Majeau, 77, was found about 7:30 a.m. near the Bangor city dock No. 2 by a man who was making an early morning check of his boat, according to a Bangor police official who was called in shortly after the body was found. The dock is in front of the Sea Dog restaurant, about 30 feet from shore and 300 feet from where the Kenduskeag Stream meets the Penobscot River.

A medical bracelet on the body identified him as Majeau, who on May 29 had been walking by the edge of the stream and slipped and fell into the fast-moving water.

Family members were notified later Wednesday morning. His wife said the news gave her both some closure but also a sharp reminder of what happened.

"It's a relief, but it's also a sudden dose of more reality," Susan Majeau, 71, said Wednesday.

The news came as searchers were getting ready for another day of looking for the body. An airplane was expected to resume flights along the Penobscot River, and volunteers also were resuming search efforts in the area of the mouth of the stream, Richard Bowie, director of Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, the volunteer search organization, said.

"I'm glad that it has been resolved for the family," Bowie said Wednesday.

In recent days, searchers had all but excluded the possibility that Majeau would be found higher up in the Kenduskeag Stream, which had been the initial focus of intense scrutiny, both above and below the water's surface. Within days after he fell in, divers from the Penobscot Emergency Response Team searched the still swollen waters of the stream near where Majeau last was seen, and an airplane took photos of possible "hot spots" to aid searchers.

The search was an intense effort that combined local, regional and state resources. Searchers used dogs to sniff for a scent along the stream bank, and the Bangor harbor master made repeated trips down the Penobscot River to Hampden and back, while the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary searched farther down the river. Concerned residents also offered to lend a hand in the search.

The search, Bowie said, was a difficult one, with several false leads and required consideration of numerous factors, including water and weather conditions.

"It's a frustrating game," he admitted.

Susan Majeau said she knew early on that her husband hadn't survived, but she deeply appreciated what others did for her and her family, from trying to comfort them to searching for her husband's body.

"I feel extremely grateful for the people who cared and kept on looking and didn't give up," she said.

Majeau, who had Parkinson's disease and who had fallen and injured himself on April 23, was returning to a rehabilitation center on May 29 when he and his wife decided to walk along the stream by Valley Avenue. At one point, he climbed through a protective barrier on a platform overlooking the stream to get a better view of the water, she said. After he was pulled back over, with some help from others, Majeau told his wife, "I guess it was the little boy in me."

Minutes later, as he and his wife continued their walk beside the stream, Majeau, again, wanted a closer look, his wife said. But this time, he slipped and fell and was pulled out by the stream's current, despite efforts by a man who tried to pull him to safety.

A memorial service is planned for August in Westbrook, where Majeau was a Unitarian Universalist minister.


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Man who fell 100 feet in serious condition; [3 Edition]

Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jul 7, 2005. pg. 3
Full Text (142   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

BANGOR - The man who fell about 100 feet from a steep wooded area overlooking the Kenduskeag Stream on Tuesday remained in serious condition Wednesday night at a Bangor hospital.

Aaron Lawson, no age available, was walking up a path along a steep area commonly known as Lover's Leap Tuesday evening when he lost his footing and fell. He struck the side of the cliff several times before hitting bottom and suffered multiple injuries, according to a Bangor Fire Department official.

Bangor firefighters and rescue personnel guided a stretcher carrying Lawson across the stream, using ropes to secure the rescuers on the slippery rocks in the stream and in the flowing water that was waist-deep in places.

Lawson was then taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center where a hospital nursing supervisor said Wednesday night that he was in serious condition.


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After fall, son has mother at his side Bangor woman shares anguish, hope; [All Edition]

DOUG KESSELI, OF THE NEWS STAFF. Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me.: Jul 12, 2005. pg. 1


Full Text (886   words)

(Copyright 2005 Bangor Daily News)

BANGOR - As a teenage football player and boxer a few years ago, Aaron Lawson learned to adapt and overcome, skills he now needs as he fights for his life.

With five crushed vertebrae, an artery to one of his kidneys crushed, damage to his spleen, and numerous broken teeth among other bumps and bruises, Lawson, 20, is in bad shape, admitted his mother, Lisa Gerrish, 41, of Bangor.

Gerrish has hardly left the hospital in the week since her son fell about 100 feet from a cliff overlooking the Kenduskeag Stream on July 5.

"We still have major issues. ... This is going to be a long haul," Gerrish said Monday as she stood outside the Intensive Care Unit waiting room of Eastern Maine Medical Center as her son underwent a CAT scan to look for more injuries and infections in his lungs and abdomen.

In his ICU bed, Lawson is hooked up to life support and a respirator and he's strapped down so that he doesn't pull out the breathing apparatus. When family members are there, the straps can be removed.

With all of that life-saving equipment in place, Lawson can't speak, so he answers questions with a wiggle of a finger, a nod of his head or the movement of his eyes, his mother said.

A facial expression can say a lot to his mother, who recently brought in a picture taken of her son when he had a pretty bad sunburn.

"He smiled," she said simply. It was the response Gerrish was hoping for.

"We try to keep it light, but he needs to know what is going on," Gerrish said. She has tried to be frank with her son about his condition.

Still, she's not sure he completely comprehends what happened and just how serious his injuries are and how his world has changed.

Just one week earlier, he and three of his friends were bored when they made an impromptu night trek up a path to the cliff known as Lover's Leap. At the top, Lawson slipped on the edge and fell. He frantically grasped for tree branches or shrubs, rocks, anything as he fell, Gerrish was told.

Two friends slid back down the path to get to the bottom while a third used a cellular phone and called for help.

Gerrish, who was in St. John, New Brunswick, on a business trip, said she was told rescue personnel arrived within a few minutes. Bangor Fire Department firefighters set up lines across the stream and waded into the water to get to Lawson on the ground.

Despite falling so far and having struck the cliff several times in pinball fashion, Lawson managed to survive.

Assistant Fire Chief Rick Cheverie of the Bangor Fire Department recalled Monday three times in his 28 years in the department that firefighters have been called to Lover's Leap for accidents. One of those times, the person who fell survived.

Lawson makes it two.

His mother isn't sure why, but she said that at least part of it may have been because of Lawon's "brick house" build.

At 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighing about 250 pounds, Lawson is beefy. His nickname "meatball," which Lawson responds to more readily than his real name, comes from his days boxing with the Bangor Police Athletic League. His meaty arm muscles were described as being like meatballs.

This muscular build may have cushioned some of the impact as he struck the cliff, and Gerrish is convinced that his internal injuries are largely due to the impact when he landed.

She also said that her son is strong-willed and adaptable. When he was younger, he played football in the Orono school system. One year he played fullback and tight end, showing a range of abilities that earned him the Player of the Year Award.

With all that her son has been through and will undergo, Gerrish is grateful for the little things, the small signs of progress.

Lawson tried to write something Monday, and although it resulted in little more than illegible scratching, he was trying.

"It wasn't anything we could read, but he was writing," she said.

Since Lawson was injured, his mother and grandmother, Judy Cirone of Bangor, have been by his side or in the waiting area almost around the clock.

"They've been trying to get me to go home for several days," Gerrish said with a brief sigh. She's tired but determined to be there.

She needs to be there, she said, even when many others have showed up to visit. One day recently, 35 of her son's friends came to visit him.

Gerrish takes those visits as a time to remind them how seemingly innocent ideas, like a night walk up a steep cliff path, can go awry, and she hopes her son's condition is a cautionary tale.

"I want you all to know when you come in here what can happen in a spur-of-the-moment accident," Gerrish said she tells her son's friends.



Gerrish also said she doesn't want any other parent to have to go through this and wonders if there are things that can be done to prevent this from happening again.

"If I could stand down there with a great big sign saying 'never come here again,' I would," she said.


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