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NUSAR Assists In Search For Candlewood Lake Boater Missing Since May 29



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BROOKFIELD — Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue (NUSAR) was among the multiple first responder agencies involved in a search for a man who went missing in Candlewood Lake over Memorial Day weekend. His body has not been recovered.

DEEP issued an update on June 8, saying the search “remains ongoing. There continues to be a police presence on the water conducting the search, as there has been every day since the individual went missing. Police personnel are utilizing sonar equipment to search the water, as well as conducting shoreline searches.

“At this time,” the statement continued, “this incident is viewed as an accidental drowning, though the incident remains under investigation.”

Brookfield Police Department and Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Environmental Conservation Police (EnCon) were among the first to respond to the Brookfield Bay area of Candlewood Lake late Sunday afternoon, May 29, for a boating incident that involved a 24-year-old male who went missing in the water.

The man, whose name has not yet been publicly released, reportedly jumped into the water from an unmoving boat.

NUSAR, the Connecticut State Police Dive Team, Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA), Danbury PD, and Danbury Fire all assisted. Resources in Search And Rescue (RSAR) sent trained K-9 search teams as well.

Divers investigated two different areas where it was believed the man could be.

Boaters have been asked to avoid the Brookfield Bay area while dive operations are underway.

DEEP Conservation Police Captain Keith Williams announced on May 30 that divers were looking for a man from Bristol who had been on a pontoon boat with several friends. A June 1 statement from DEEP said DEEP EnCon Police were seeking assistance from members of the public who were around Brookfield Bay three days earlier between 5:30 and 6:45 pm.

At the surface, the water temperature reportedly averaged just over 60 degrees. Divers who went into the water, which is 70 feet deep in some locations, reported temperatures in the 50s and very dark, murky conditions. Candlewood Lake, according to CLA’s website, has an average depth of 30 feet.

By Monday morning the rescue effort had become a recovery effort.

“We’re still trying to ascertain exactly what happened here, but ultimately he ended up in the water and did not come up,” Williams said during a May 30 press conference.

Teams also used sonar technology for the search.

“The goal is to search this area with their side scan. Most likely they won’t put anybody into the water until they get a confirmation on the side scan,” Williams added.

Teams were on scene for a few hours after the initial calls for help were received on May 29, and have returned daily, according to DEEP.

NUSAR was on the scene for three days. Its members continue to monitor the investigation.

Dawn Singer, a member of the local dive team, said that while the work of dive teams can often be rewarding, it can also be the opposite.

“We just feel helpless. We want the family to have closure,” she told The Newtown Bee. “Our hearts are heavy.”

Candlewood Lake is the largest lake in Connecticut. With 65 miles of shoreline, it spans five towns and forms the western border of Brookfield. Its northern shores stretch into Sherman and New Milford; its southern shore is along Danbury Town Park.

The lake has a surface area of over 8.5 square miles, or 5,420 acres. It is 11 miles long, and two miles at its widest point.

Brookfield Bay is along the eastern shores of the lake. It is near Candlewood Inn, Down The Hatch, Candlewood East Marina, and Echo Bay Marina, among other shore points.

Anyone with information about the May 29 incident is asked to contact DEEP EnCon Police at 860-904-8154.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue members including Stephen Rapoza, left, and Daniel Granucci are pictured in Brookfield on Sunday, May 29, when they and other first responders began searching Candlewood Lake in Brookfield for a missing 24-year-old man. —photo courtesy Dawn Singer
NUSAR Lieutenant Hans Williams and Chief Mike McCarthy, on NUSAR’s primary rescue on one of the days the local dive team assisted in the search for a missing man believed to have drowned in Candlewood Lake. —photo courtesy Dawn Singer
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