Massachusetts Man Dies After Rafting Incident
Township 2, Range 10 – A 53-year-old Massachusetts man died shortly after a commercial rafting incident Sunday afternoon on the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
Walter Cruz, 53, of Seekonk, Mass., was a passenger on one of at least seven commercial rafts taking a whitewater rafting excursion offered by New England Outdoors Center when the incident occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Lt. Doug Tibbetts of the Maine Warden Service. The Maine Warden Service was notified about the incident at 12:09 p.m.
The rafts were near Abol Bridge at Pockwockamus Falls when five people, including Mr. Cruz, fell out of the raft they were in. Shortly after Mr. Cruz was brought back onto the raft, he lost consciousness for a short period of time, according to Lt. Tibbetts.
“When they got Mr. Cruz pulled into the raft, he began to have an apparent medical issue,” Lt. Tibbetts said. “He became unconscious momentarily.”
Mr. Cruz, who was rafting with his 15- and 17-year-old sons from Coventry, R.I., was transported by ambulance to Millinocket Regional Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 12:41 p.m. at the hospital. “The cause of death is unknown at this time,” said Lt. Tibbetts.
The Maine Medical Examiner’s Office will be examining Mr. Cruz to determine the cause of death, and now is handling the case, according to Lt. Tibbetts. Mr. Cruz was transported to Lamson Funeral Home in Millinocket. Mr. Cruz’s family has been notified.
The Penobscot River has high, fast water that still is extremely cold, Lt. Tibbetts said.