May 17, 2016
Fatal rafting incident/ West Forks Plantation
The Maine Warden Service responded to the report of an unresponsive male in West Forks Plantation on Saturday, May 14, at approximately 2:00 PM. Michael Arena, 52, of Lexington, Massachusetts was on a commercial rafting trip with North Country Rivers. Arena fell from the raft as they were going through a series of white water on the Dead River.
Arena was a chaperone with a group of four boy scouts, one of which was his son. There were seven people total in the raft to include a guide, two chaperones and four teenage boys. The raft was being operated in accordance to state law. Upper Kennebec Valley Ambulance responded and pronounced Arena dead at the scene. The cause of death has yet to be determined. This is a rare incident involving Maine’s whitewater rafting industry as it has been several years since a fatality has occurred. Nearly 70,000 people commercially raft Maine’s rivers each year.