MEDWAY – More than 40 wardens and volunteers, as well as eight dogs, were searching late Friday for an 84-year-old mushroom hunter missing for 21/2 days.
Searchers feared that Peter Misiura of Medway was lost or hurt or dead in more than three square miles of thick woods and underbrush between Baker Brook and Route 11.
The former millworker was described by friends as an experienced hunter and fisherman and was thought to be in good health, but could be battling hypothermia or other injuries, said Sgt. Patrick Dorian of the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
“If he has his wits about him and he is mobile, chances are he would have found his way out of the woods by now,” said Dorian, who was coordinating the search Friday from the Medway Fire Department headquarters on Route 11.
Misiura left his house on Main Road on Wednesday morning to hunt honey and brick-cap mushrooms, which typically bloom after the first frost.
Described as slender, 5 foot 6 and 130 pounds, Misiura often hunts for the mushrooms, according to the warden.
Neighbors alerted Misiura’s son, Peter Misiura Jr., who called police Friday morning after they saw the senior Misiura’s mail piled in his mailbox, Dorian said.
By Friday afternoon, searchers had found Misiura’s 1996 Ford Ranger, and dogs hit traces of Misiura’s scent in areas north of that. No other signs had been found, Dorian said.
The Ranger was found about two miles east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
Chances of finding Misiura are excellent, Dorian said. People of his age can survive several days without food and water, and Misiura may have carried water with him.
“We’ve found people who have been out there for much longer, five or 10 days,” Dorian said.
Still, Misiura’s hearing is poor, so he may not be able to hear searchers’ calls.
Searchers were walking shoulder to shoulder through the woods and heavily sloped ground to ensure that they wouldn’t miss anything. Two search planes flew over the area Friday morning, Dorian said.
As many as 200 were expected if the search continued into the weekend.
Misiura’s friends were hopeful Friday.
Joe Stanley, 49, of Medway had never participated in a missing-person search, but rushed to the Fire Department when he heard that Misiura was missing.
Misiura and Stanley’s father, Carroll Stanley, have been friends for more than 40 years. Both worked together at the Great Northern paper mill.
“They’re very close,” Stanley said of Misiura and his father. “Pete’s pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the woods, so we’re all worried about what might have happened.”
Friday’s effort marked at least the sixth search in the past 10 days statewide for missing people, Dorian said.