MEREDITH — The two men killed Saturday night in a Lake Winnipesaukee boat crash were good friends and neighbors on Bear Island who often hunted together.
Dr. Harold C. Lyon Jr., 84, of 140 Bear Island and James A. Hanson, 76, of 111 Bear Island, were killed when their power boats collided while making the turn around the mail dock on the north side of the island shortly after 6 p.m. on a moonlit night.
Hanson and his wife, Carmella, 75, were aboard a 20-foot Sea Ray heading to shore to meet friends for dinner and Lyon, who was returning to the island alone, was at the helm of a Penn Yan when the two vessels collided.
“None of us can really wrap our heads around it. It was a path that we have all taken hundreds of times and there was no boat traffic at all. The odds are just astronomical of those two boats colliding,” said Hanson’s grandson Patrick.
He said his grandfather bought a cottage on the island in 1993 that became a popular summer spot for the extended family.
Hanson and Lyon were great friends, loved to hunt deer together and had spent hundreds of hours on the water. Both were seasoned boaters, he said.
Carmella Hanson, who remains at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with head injuries, was able to call for help from the boat. Fire boats with emergency medical personnel from Meredith, Gilford and Laconia responded to the 911 call, along with officers from Marine Patrol.
They found the Sea Ray adrift. Driver James Hanson remained unresponsive despite efforts to revive him.
His wife reported she thought they had run aground, officials said, but Marine Patrol officers concluded the damage to the boat was not consistent with having hit bottom.
After receiving a report that another Bear Island boater was overdue, Marine Patrol called in the state Fish & Game Dive Team and the state police helicopter.
Patrick Hanson said funeral services for his grandfather won’t be held until his grandmother is released from the hospital.
Lyon graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was an Army Ranger. He was director of Education for the Gifted and Talented in the U.S. Department of Education, and was federal project officer for the creation of “Sesame Street.” He was a three-time Fulbright professor.
He authored a number of books, including “Angling in the Smile of the Great Spirit,” which was named the New England Outdoor Writers Association book of the year in 2007.
According to property tax records, Dr. Lyon owned a 1931 vintage three-bedroom camp on the island until August 2018 when the 1,380-square-foot cottage was sold to Eric C. and Victoria W. Lyon.
The Hansons own a three-bedroom, two-story camp on the island built in 1974 that is 1,542 square feet.
Marine Patrol Capt. Tim Dunleavy said Sunday he did not know whether efforts would be made to recover the wreckage of Lyon’s boat. Whether it could be successfully raised would depend on its condition, which had not been thoroughly examined.
Fish & Game divers spent just enough time in the water on Sunday to recover Lyon’s body, which was found inside the submerged boat at a depth of 48 feet.
Meanwhile the Hansons’ boat remains in the custody of the Marine Patrol, which is investigating the crash.
The 780-acre Bear Island is dotted with about 190 homes, most occupied only during summer.