OGDENSBURG A city native is missing and presumed dead after he vanished while participating in an extreme footrace on an Alaska mountain.
Michael LeMaitre, 65, was last seen July 4 near the summit of Marathon Mountain in Seward. Reports in the Anchorage Daily News said searchers combed the mountain until mid-July but found no trace of him. His family called off the search and held a memorial for him last month.
He was a 1965 graduate of Ogdensburg Free Academy and son of Mary and Marcel LeMaitre, who both worked at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. Mr. LeMaitre lived in Anchorage, where he was a counselor at the Elmendorf-Richardson Air Force Base Family Readiness Center.
Seward Fire Chief David L. Squires said that although the search for Mr. LeMaitre officially has ended, volunteers are still looking.
There are people going out on the mountain just about every day, he said.
Mr. Squires said the mountain terrain can be treacherous. Another runner suffered serious head injuries in a fall this year.
For the most part the injuries are minor broken arms and legs, he said. The weather has a lot to do with it. This year it rained two days before and was drizzling off and on at different points.
A report in the Alaska Dispatch said it was possible that Mr. LeMaitre became lost on his way back down the mountain or had fallen into a crack in a snowfield near the summit. He was participating in the Seward Mount Marathon Race.
Friend Gerald A. Reed, Ogdensburg, said Monday that it was still difficult for him to accept what had happened.
Mike and I grew up together, Mr. Reed said. We both lived on Knox Street and hung out together in high school. Then we went our separate ways, but weve always kept in touch.
He said Mr. LeMaitre was devoted to his family and loved the outdoors.
He was an avid river rat when we were in school, he said. We used to go up to Stovin Island, and the rest of us jumped off the cliff, but he had to jump off the top of the light pole that was there. The 20-foot drop from the cliff wasnt high enough for him.
Mr. Reed said he had visited Mr. LeMaitre last year in Alaska.
He was a great guy, he said. He was a real family man.
Mr. LeMaitre and his wife, Peggy, have three grown children.
He had many friends here in Ogdensburg, said Mildred B. Dillenbeck, Mr. LeMaitres cousin. He was a very ambitious and outgoing person.
She said his disappearance has been difficult for his family to bear.
His wife told us its easy enough to get confused about which trail youre on, Mrs. Dillenbeck said. One trail goes along a very narrow path and if one slips, you can go down into a river that flows into the ocean. Another trail is almost too wet and treacherous to go on at all, and another trail bears have been seen on. But they didnt find a piece of his clothing or a slide of rocks or anything. They have not found a trace of him.
She said his family most likely will seek to have him declared officially dead next month.
Its bad enough losing someone, but when somebody just comes up missing, you always have that wonder about what happened, she said.