Four men rescued after ATVs break through ice on Branch Lake



ELLSWORTH — Four local men were rescued from Branch Lake Saturday evening after the all-terrain vehicles they were riding on broke through the ice.

Around 5:10 p.m., emergency personnel received a report that the men’s ATVs — one a Kawasaki and the other a Polaris — had gone through the ice “somewhere near the middle” of the lake, according to Ellsworth Fire Chief Richard Tupper.

Numerous agencies in addition to the Fire Department responded to the scene, which was eventually determined to be off of Phillips Way.

Among those agencies were the Warden Service, state police, Ellsworth Police, the Marine Patrol, the Penobscot Indian Tribal Warden Service, County Ambulance and the Orland and Dedham fire departments.

The men were reportedly stranded on an ice floe near a rock ledge known as “The Cow and the Calf,” according to a press release from the Warden Service. The men were between 600 and 800 feet from shore.

The Warden Service identified the men as follows: Lawrence Tucker of Ellsworth, and Darwin Golding, Mike Hibbits and Jeffrey Burditt, all of Sullivan. Tucker owns the Kawasaki ATV, while Hibbits owns the Polaris.

One of the ATVs sank into the lake, while the other was only partially submerged. The men, according to Tupper, were able to jump off the ATVs when they broke through the ice. The Warden Service reported the men were standing on the ice floe when rescuers arrived.

“That was extremely fortunate for their well-being,” said Tupper. “If they had gone through the ice, too, that would have complicated things greatly.”

Wardens and Marine Patrol officers used a canoe and firefighters in cold-water rescue suits used a rescue sled to get the men safely off the ice.

According to the Ellsworth Police Department, the four men were treated by medical personnel at the scene and then released.

In its press release, the Warden Service did not announce any charges against the men. Cpl. John MacDonald, a spokesman for the Warden Service, said the owners of the ATVs are responsible for removing them from the lake.

Find in-depth coverage of local news in The Ellsworth American. Subscribe digitally or in print.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller has worked at The Ellsworth American since 2012. He covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast’s Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.