Snowmobile crash victim aided by dog sled

Posted Jan. 31, 2009, at 6:10 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:07 a.m.

MOLUNKUS TOWNSHIP, Maine — Two snowsledders fetched a dog sled to help a Lincoln woman get to the hospital Saturday after she broke her leg snowmobiling on Interconnected Trail System 81.

Penny Hayes, whose age was not available, probably got to Penobscot Valley Hospital of Lincoln faster than she would have otherwise thanks to the helpful strangers, Game Warden Paul H. Farrington said.

“In talking to her boyfriend, I could tell that he was very appreciative of the help these people gave,” Farrington said Saturday. “She didn’t have to wait for a rescue sled to come, from probably Lincoln PD [Police Department]. That would have taken awhile.”

“It was kind of a fluke thing,” said Eric Michael Cammack Sr., 28, of Levant, who helped Hayes get to the hospital. “We are snowmobilers. We all pitch in to help each other. It makes the trail system go smoother.”

Hayes was in stable condition when a PVH ambulance took her Saturday night to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for further treatment, said Allison H. Bankston, PVH spokeswoman.

The accident was among two Farrington handled in the Mattawamkeag and Katahdin regions by late Saturday. Another incident ended with a head-on collision between snowmobilers that heavily damaged a sled, Farrington said.

“The trails are fairly busy,” Farrington said Saturday. “It’s been a good weekend for sledding — fairly large number of people out there. The trails are in pretty decent shape. It’s been the first weekend that we’ve had weather warm enough that people can get out and enjoy. It’s been really busy with fishermen, too. A lot of people are out on the lakes.”

Cammack and his mother, Christina Cammack, 51, of Mattawamkeag, came upon Hayes’ accident when they were snowmobiling on the ITS near Molunkus Lake about three miles south of Aroostook Road, the elder Cammack said.

“We were seconds behind her,” she said.

It was around 1 p.m. when Hayes missed a sharp turn as her right foot came off her sled’s running board and her leg went under the snowmobile. Hayes’ travel companion, alternately identified as her husband or boyfriend, and Eric Cammack tended to Hayes as Christina Cammack went ahead to her home on Hathaway Road to get the dog sled.

Cammack dug the sled out of heavy snow in her yard and helped hook it to her son’s snowmobile when he arrived several minutes later. He took it back to Hayes, and with the help of Hayes’ husband and two other unidentified passers-by, both from Lawrence, Mass., he gently lowered her onto the dog sled.

“She was in pain, uncomfortable,” said Eric Cammack, a heavy-equipment operator for Mid-Maine Excavation LLC of Brewer. “You went to touch her leg and she would scream. She said it was worse than giving birth, that she would rather give birth to a child than deal with pain like that.”

With Cammack’s 8-year-old son, Eric Jr., helping keep her comfortable during the ride, Cammack took Hayes to her uncle’s home on Aroostook Road. There an East Millinocket rescue ambulance, which was summoned by a 911 call to state police dispatchers at about 2:25 p.m., took Hayes to PVH.

“She would probably have waited awhile longer because there was nobody else around who could have helped,” Christina Cammack said.

Eric Cammack was especially proud of how his son helped Hayes.

“Us Mainers stick together,” Cammack said. “If I or somebody in my family were in a situation like that, I would hope that somebody else would help the same way.”

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