South Jersey man on 'journey of a lifetime' drowns in Maine

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Michael Camiso, 39, of Bordentown, Burlington County drowned earlier this month while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

On the last day in March, Michael Camiso changed his job title to “explorer.”

Camiso, 39, of Fieldsboro, Burlington County, was hiking the Appalachian Trail this spring and earlier this month, he came to the banks of the Kennebec River in Maine, not far from the 2,190 mile trek’s terminus at Mt. Katahdin.

“He was on a journey of a lifetime,”  his mother, Alice Camiso, said by phone Friday morning.

According to a report on WMTW News 8 of Portland, Camiso told a law enforcement officer he was going to try to swim across and was advised against it because the water was running high.  That officer, the report said, was the last person to see Camiso alive.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office reported that some of Camiso’s belongings had been found on May 11.

On Tuesday, construction workers in Caratunk, Somerset County, found Camiso’s body, 127 miles southwest of Mt. Katahdin. A medical examiner determined he had drowned.

Alice Camiso, also of Fieldsboro, declined to comment further.

A GoFundMe account started by Camiso’s sister, Nikki Camiso, is asking for donations to help return Camiso’s remains to New Jersey. Nikki Camiso said her brother joined the U.S. Army at 18 and suffered a brain injury in a training accident in Alaska. She said her brother was on permanent disability and struggled with mental illness and bouts of depression.

“Mikey was a wonderful, kind, brilliant man with a heart of gold,” she said.

Leftover donations would be sent to The Soldiers Project, a nonprofit that helps veterans with mental-health issues.

In April, Camiso posted a handful of photos from the trail: a full moon, a sunset by a waterway, and one exuberant selfie by a trail marker in a snow-covered forest.

“The one thing that truly made him happy was being outside, in nature,” Nikki Camiso wrote on the GoFundMe page.

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Michael Camiso, in a photo he posted on Facebook in April.