Forty-two years after brother’s drowning death, Hancock man dies in river

  • Edward “Eddie” Chamberlain Jr. died in the Contoocook River on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. He was 52.  Courtesy photo—

  • Edward “Eddie” Chamberlain Jr. died in the Contoocook River on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. He was 52.  Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 9:7AM

A Hancock man who died in the Contoocook River last week loved to swim, despite a workplace-related injury that left him unable to work. 

Edward “Eddie” E. Chamberlain Jr. died on June 14 after he went for a swim near his house on Cavender Road in Hancock with his two dogs. A family member called the police after the dogs, a black lab and a Rottweiler, returned home from the swim but Chamberlain didn’t. His body was discovered about 200 hundred feet north from where crews found Chamberlain’s clothing and had staged the search. He was 52.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Chamberlain’s cause of death was pending toxicology as of Friday. A call to the state’s Department of Fish and Game was not returned by deadline on Monday. 

“He loved to go swimming, rivers, lakes, whatever,” said his stepmother, Mildred Chamberlain of Hancock. “Most of the time he was down at the river.”

Ashley Chamberlain, one of three of Eddie’s daughters, said her dad was always cautious when he went swimming in the river or fishing after his stepbrother, Robert Chartier, died in the nearby Ferguson Brook when they were kids. An article published in the Ledger-Transcript in March 1975 says Chartier, 4 years old, was playing with other kids near a bridge when he fell into the brook and was swept away by the strong current.

“That was his biggest fear,” Ashley said referring to drowning.

She said her dad blamed himself for not being able to save his stepbrother that day when they were just kids.

“Knowing that he went out that way …” Ashley said trailing off. “It’s crazy.”

Ashley, who is now 30 and has kids of her own, also grew up on that street. She got her first bike there and caught her first fish in that water.

Now the place that is so familiar is the area that took her dad away from her.

“It’s so hard,” she said, adding that she is still at a loss for words.

On Father’s Day this past Sunday, Ashley said the family set up a memorial by the river. They brought his two dogs to the river and stayed for a while spending time together.

Ashley said she and her two sisters, Cheyenne Adelman and Tawni Chamberlain, set up a GoFundMe site on Monday to help cover funeral costs. The site says he didn’t have life insurance. Chamberlain was injured at work years ago and needed two disks in his neck replaced.

“It’s hard to ask for help but it’s financially impossible for his three daughters,” the site reads.

They are hoping to raise $1,515 to put toward those costs.

Once they have enough money, Ashley said they are planning on spreading their dad’s ashes around the places he loved most; by the house and by the river.

Family and friends are hosting a memorial service for their father this Saturday at 2 p.m. at his home on 68 Cavender Road.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com. Follow her on Twitter @akesslerMLT.