Visitors Pack Acadia National Park One Day After Tragedy

Joy Hollowell

Updated 5 years ago

Higher than normal surf drew crowds to Acadia National Park again today.The same site of a horrible accident just 24 hours earlier.Joy Hollowell talked with visitors as well as park officials about the tragedy near Thunder Hole.++++++++++”Well, we were going by and we heard about what happened.”Visitors to Acadia National Park swapped stories Monday of what had happened here just 24 hours earlier.Around noon Sunday, a storm surge from Hurricane Bill washed seven people into the water. Earlier reports put the crowd at Thunder Hole, but Chief Park Ranger Stuart West says the observation deck was actually closed because of the dangerous surf.”But beyond that, in the undeveloped area, the natural area of the park, that’s where people were along the shore path and down towards the ocean when this happened,” says Chief West.West says folks were up on a cliff about 20 feet above sea level.”A wave crashed down, foam and everything washed up to where they were at ankle deep or so. They immediately turned around and started retreating towards Ocean Drive, and as they did, their backs were turned to the ocean and another wave came, much larger and swept them back into the ocean,” says Chief West.Four people were pulled back on shore, but three others were swept out to sea. Chief West says the victims were in the 55 degree water for about 20 minutes before a Coast Guard boat arrived.”Once we got on scene, we were in seas approximately 15 to 17 feet. When we recovered the first individual, once we located the second individual, we grabbed a hold of him and then west to Seal Harbor,” says Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class James Rhodes.The Coast Guard released rescue vide of 55-year-old Peter Axilrod of New York City. Sadly, his seven year old daughter, Clio drowned before crews could get to her. Another girl, 12-year old Simone Pelletier of Belfast did survive the rescue. She was taken to MDI hospital with non-life threatening injuries.Chief West defended the park’s decision to stay open on Sunday. He says signs warning of dangerous surf were posted and Sand beach along with Thunder Hole were blocked off to visitors.”We have over 15 miles of shoreline in Acadia National Park, just between MDI and Schoodic. So we close one section, say ocean drive, all it does it push people into other areas. We’d prefer to know where people are located rather than try to guess. They were going to the shore no matter what, it was like bugs to a light, literally,” says Chief West.Joy Hollowell, Wabi TV 5 News, Acadia National Park.>========The man rescued by Coast Guard crews, Peter Axilrod, along with his wife, Sandra Kuhach, are still hospitalized at Eastern Maine Medical Center.No word on their conditions.An examination at Mount Desert Island Hospital Monday concluded that their daughter, seven year old Clio, died of drowning.


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