DURHAM (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- With their son now found, the McFarland family plans to hold a funeral for their five-year-old boy who fell into the Androscoggin River three weeks ago.
The Maine Warden Service said Monday that a kayaker, 43-year-old Chris Lane, found Valerio McFarland about five miles downstream from where the boy fell in near Bonney Park in Auburn.
"I figured more eyes the better and just kind of imagining what the parents must be going through was what motivated me," said Lane. "I can't imagine anything harder than losing a child, but not knowing where they are is worse."
For 20 days, wardens and volunteers searched the bed and banks of the Androscoggin River, but could not find the boy. Wardens presumed he was dead.
Lane said he had intended to participate in a weekend group search, but could not, so he performed his own search Monday. As he was searching the "strainers," trees down in the river, he saw something that stood out.
"It was his shirt," said Lane. "He looked peaceful. He looked like a boy who was looking underwater."
Lane said he called 911 right away.
"It was a very surreal feeling," said Lane. "He's supposed to be running around playing. It's a difficult thing, but at that point you think about the family and whatever can be done to lessen some of the pain that they're feeling."
Lane said he never met the McFarland family. He is a registered Maine guide and kayak instructor at L.L. Bean. He has a five-year-old son of his own.
"It hits home pretty hard," said Lane.
The family posted a 'thank you' on Facebook.
The family plans to hold a funeral for their son, where they hope to thank all the volunteers.