Woman found alive in Waterford woods

Ruth Brennan Photo courtesy Maine Warden Service

Ruth Brennan
Photo courtesy Maine Warden Service

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

NORTH WATERFORD — A K-9 unit found 77-year-old Ruth Brennan alive and well Wednesday morning as scores of volunteers and search and rescue professionals geared up for a third grueling day of searching in the thick woods, streams and swamps around the Five Kezars in North Waterford. It was a happy ending to one of the largest search and rescue operations in the history of western Maine.

The Maine Warden Service said Brennan, who lives in South Portland and was on vacation with family, was found around 9:30 a.m. No further details were available by the News’s press time. Brennan disappeared after leaving a remote cabin at 6 Spur Ridge Road, located off Five Kezars Road, to walk to Melby’s Market & Eatery in North Waterford.

After searching with planes, dogs, helicopters, on horseback, ATVs and on foot, the Maine Warden Service and other agencies had issued a plea Wednesday for volunteers from the public to help them with the search for Brennan within the Five Kezars, a chain of ponds spanning three towns. A mobile command post has been set up at the Waterford Fire Department headquarters at 366 Valley Road in Waterford.

Tuesday’s search concentrated mostly on roadsides, trail edges, streams, travelways and inside vacant structures where Brennan may have sought shelter. Oxford County Sheriff’s Deputies were also conducting door-to-door searches.

Warden Service Spokesman John MacDonald said Tuesday they were in it for the long haul, and they wouldn’t stop until Brennan was found. An infrared camera positioned on an Air National Guard helicopter was being used at night, but it came up with no information because of the dense tree canopy, MacDonald said.

On Wednesday, a more comprehensive grid search of the woods was just getting underway when Brennan was found. Lt. Adam Gormely of the Warden Service headed up the search, and was assisted by other Game Wardens, the Maine Association of Search and Rescue (MASAR), Oxford County Sheriff’s Department, Maine State Police, Maine Forest Service, Maine Army Guard, Waterford Fire Department, and other area fire departments.

Brennan, of South Portland, was with her family at their annual weeklong vacation at the 6 Spur Ridge Road cabin, when she left at around 10:30 a.m. Monday to walk to Melby’s Market & Eatery, a distance of several miles. Brennan’s family said she was a regular walker and in good physical health, but isprone to “some memory lapses,” according to Warden Service Spokesman John MacDonald. He said earlier reports that Brennan has dementia were inaccurate, as there has been no diagnosis as such.

MacDonald said there were several sightings of Brennan that helped narrow the search area considerably. One witness reported seeing her walking on Five Kezars Road at around 3 p.m. Monday.

Thick woods, difficult terrain and swamps exist on either side of the roads from the cabin, located between two of the ponds on a narrow piece of land. The camp roads include Bridge Road, Kezars Ridge Road and Five Kezars Road.

Horses were trucked in Tuesday to help with the search, and police K-9 dogs were also used.

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