Well-known Portland man drowns while fishing at east outlet of Moosehead Lake
Maine game wardens have found the body of a well-known Portland man who they believe drowned Saturday afternoon while fishing at the East Outlet of Moosehead Lake.
In a press release Sunday evening, the Maine Warden Service identified the victim as Truc Huynh, 40. Huynh was a Vietnamese immigrant, a 2005 graduate of Bowdoin College and a 2001 graduate of Portland High School.
Huynh was named a George Mitchell Institute Scholar after graduating from high school. In a 2019 interview with the Portland Press Herald, he said financial and other assistance from the institute enabled him to earn a degree in government and legal studies from Bowdoin in 2005. After college, Huynh worked at Unum as a benefits consultant for over a year. decade. He was also involved in the operation of his family’s Westbrook restaurant – Phoever Maine Vietnamese Bar & Grill.
Portland Public Schools featured Huynh in 2017 on its Promise website, which is dedicated to showcasing some of the school district’s success stories. The profile says Huynh’s family emigrated from Vietnam to Maine in 1989. Huynh was one of six children in his family to graduate from Portland Public Schools while his mother worked as a housekeeper and his father as a line worker for Barber Foods in Portland.
He attended Reiche Community School and King Middle School and recognized the diversity of the Portland school system for his success in life.
“It (Portland Schools) exposes you to different areas and it teaches you to listen to different perspectives from different people,” Truc told Tess Nacelewicz, the Portland Public Schools spokeswoman who wrote the profile about her. “It’s really one of the skill sets that wasn’t taught in the classroom, but it was kind of a byproduct of the Portland public schools. It helped prepare me for today’s real world, where my job is really about meeting all kinds of different employer groups.
Huynh was grateful for the opportunities available to him in the United States and sought to give back to his community. He became a US citizen in 2005.
In 2019, Huynh and a friend, Nate Cutting, went on a 400-mile bike ride through Maine to raise money for five nonprofits that helped his family come to Maine – the Mitchell Institute, the Susan L. Curtis Foundation, the Greater Immigrant Welcome Center, Community Bike Center, and Maine Graduate Jobs. At the time of the hike, Huynh said he received $16,000 from business partners, friends and family.
Organizing for “Trucking Across Maine” began while Huynh and Cutting were participating in the 2018 Trek Across Maine – a 100-mile bike fundraiser for the American Lung Association. Cutting said the two had an in-depth conversation about the differences between northern and southern Maine, and the misperceptions each region had of the other, particularly around discussions of race and immigration. He hoped that meeting locals on his trip would dispel misconceptions about immigrants.
“I thought, what a great way to showcase our state to say, here is an immigrant who has benefited many people, including the government, when he and his family first came here, and also citizens private,” Huynh said. . “And they did and are now paying him back by giving back to the community he grew up in, to the state he grew up in.”
Huynh’s friends expressed their deep regret on social media for the loss of a person who changed people’s lives and perspectives.
“It’s hard to imagine a world without your big smile and generous heart,” Colleen Quint wrote. “You had such a positive impact on the people you knew and the world around you. To say we will miss you absolutely fails to capture the grief we feel…but we will miss you and will miss you deeply.
“T, you were the stuff legends were made of. My heart is broken today,” Nicole Axelson wrote.
“Thing, you told so many inspiring stories about your family, and your energy and warmth was amazing. You were a role model for all of us,” Michelle Dietz said.
Maine game wardens said Huynh was fishing with a friend Saturday morning on the East Outlet, which flows out of Moosehead Lake and into the Kennebec River. The friends were in a fishing raft around noon when they decided to move to a new location on the river, according to Maine Warden Service spokesman Mark Latti.
Latti said the friends were descending the river in the raft when they encountered whitewater rapids. The rapids overturned their boat, throwing the two men into the water. Huynh was not wearing a life jacket and was swept away by the current, Latti said. Huynh never surfaced, but his friend, who was wearing a life jacket, came ashore and called for help.
Guards and several other people who witnessed the incident searched the shore, but could not locate Huynh.
Latti said the Maine Warden Service launched a plane to fly over the river. Game Warden Pilot Chris Hilton spotted Huynh’s body around 4 p.m. Saturday along a stretch of the river in Sapling Township. Guards launched a boat and recovered the body at 4:20 p.m.
According to Maine River Guides, which offers river fishing trips, the east outlet of the Kennebec River, which is about 3.5 miles long, is a popular fly-fishing spot, particularly because it’s teeming with salmon and brook trout.
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