Woman Survives Ocean Plunge Near Thunder Hole

Area has a history of deaths

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK—Just after high tide this past Saturday, a young Royalston, Massachusetts woman had a close call when a wave struck her and pulled her into the ocean when she was in Acadia National Park and sitting near Thunder Hole. Hurricane Earl created high surf.

Reports of her fall occurred around 11:35 a.m. By 12:05 p.m. a Coast Guard unit based out of Southwest Harbor was able to spot the 20-year-old woman and plucked her out of the ocean and onto their boat and transport her to Bar Harbor, and she seems to be fine.

Others haven’t been quite so lucky. There have been about seventy deaths since the park became official way back in the beginning of the 1900s and some of them have been from rogue waves or high swells during passing storms.

David McKinney was just nineteen when he was with friends and stopped to peek at a cave near Great Head.

It was 1969 and David strayed about twenty feet away from his friends, moving down the granite cliffs to check out the cave. Right then, a big wave came in, water splashing over the rock edge where David was standing and hauling him into the sea.

They never found his body.

Rogue waves happen anywhere that there is ocean and Maine is no exception. On August 23, 2009 Hurricane Bill’s rogue wave yanked several tourists into the Atlantic, pulling them off a rocky ledge and into the cold sea water. Tons of people scrambled back onto the ledge by Thunder Hole, a major attraction in the park where the waves smash into a crevasse and make a sound like thunder and splash really dramatically up into the air.

It had been high tide when it happened. Two people were pulled out of the water by the Coast Guard, which has a station on our island, in Southwest Harbor. They survived. But one girl didn’t. She was just seven. 

In 1934, Emily McDougall, 23, also from Massachusetts died after a waves swept her into the ocean near Thunder Hole. It had been almost high tide and McDougall did not know how to swim. She and others had been walking on rocks near the water. Friends and a man passing by tried to save her, keeping her above water for forty minutes before an officer arrived. Eventually, they were able to throw a rope out far enough and pull McDougall and her friend into the shore.

Gerald D.F. Poisson also drowned near Thunder Hole back in 1963. From Ontario, Poisson and his family were vacationing in Acadia, camping at Blackwoods Campground. He was taking photos and bent over when a wave hit him, pulling him off the rocks and into the water. The life preserver that was typically at a box in the area was not there and after ten minutes he drowned.








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