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An adventurous kayaking trip turned into a nighttime rescue operation when 69-year-old Mark Thompson found himself stranded on an island in the Saco River. The Conway resident and his son had set out on the river near Diana's Bath in Bartlett with the intent to paddle downstream. However, a challenging stretch of the river resulted in both kayaks capsizing.

Although Thompson's son successfully managed to return to his vessel, Thompson himself reportedly lost his boat, opting instead to swim towards shore. He was last observed around 2 p.m., trudging onshore towards Route 16.

Upon receiving the report around 7:30 p.m., Conway Police activated a comprehensive search operation. This involved a joint effort between the North Conway and Bartlett Fire and Police Departments, Center Conway Fire Department, and the New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The mission culminated close to 11 p.m. when a drone equipped with a thermal camera, employed by Center Conway Fire, identified a heat source on an island in the Bartlett part of the river. Using a rubber rescue boat, the team managed to reach the island and found Thompson shortly after midnight.

Fortunately, despite the harrowing ordeal, Thompson was found unharmed, bringing a relieving conclusion to the tense search operation.

By: Haye Kesteloo

June 20, 2023