T2-R10 WELS, Maine (South of Baxter State Park) (NEWS CENTER) — A 25 year-old man from Millinocket died Sunday while whitewater kayaking on the Nesowadnehunk Stream just south of Baxter State Park.
Just after 5 p.m. police say Joseph Giffune Jr. was kayaking with a friend on the section of the stream just before West Branch of the Penobscot River. Giffune got stuck in a hole of recirculating water at the bottom of the ledge and was unable to get free.
According to Giffune's Facebook page, he was an expert paddler who had worked as a river guide and as a manager for New England Outdoor Center.
The other kayaker tried to rescue Giffune but was unsuccessful. Eventually, Giffune was released from the hydraulic and swept downstream. He was unconscious when he was pulled from the river.
Giffune was pronounced dead at the scene.
UPDATED 5:35 p.m.: Giffune's family has released the following statement about his accident.
“Our family is deeply appreciative of the expressions of sympathy received from Joe’s many friends. Joe was an experienced whitewater kayaker and rafting guide who died doing what he loved in the place that he loved.” The family has asked the public and media for the privacy to mourn as a family and respectfully asks the media not to contact them for comments or information."