An expert woodsman, skidder operator and a supporting player in the “American Loggers” reality-TV program has died, his employer said Monday.
David “Davey” McLaughlin, of Milo, who turned 45 on April 15, died late Friday. As viewers of the Discovery Channel show have seen, McLaughlin was an amiable, hardworking man who suffered for many years from a severe diabetic condition, said Rudy Pelletier, co-owner of Gerald Pelletier Inc. of Millinocket.
“He could not control his diabetes. He was having problems,” Pelletier said Monday. “We had to release him [from work] from time to time so that he could get his health on track. It used to really concern me when we were out in the woods working.”
A spokeswoman at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta said McLaughlin’s body had been examined, but not autopsied, on Monday. A coroner’s report on his cause of death is due today, said his sister, Charity Rudge of Medway.
McLaughlin is survived by two sons, 18-year-old Ryan McLaughlin and 23-year-old Adam McLaughlin and a girlfriend of many years, Laurie Carey. She has been hospitalized for two months at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with a variety of ailments, Adam McLaughlin said.
No funeral arrangements have been announced. McLaughlin’s family also assumes that he died of complications from diabetes, Rudge said.
“Davey had switched his insulin recently and he wasn’t very comfortable with it,” Rudge said, adding that the new insulin seemed to contribute to sudden downward spikes in McLaughlin’s blood-sugar levels.
McLaughlin was bothered by his diabetes, which doctors discovered when he was 14, but he never let it slow him down. He enjoyed hunting and fishing. He especially liked fishing at Hawthorn Pond near Baxter State Park, his sister said.
A true 1970s child, McLaughlin loved the TV show “Mork and Mindy,” the late comedian Richard Pryor, and was a pretty fair comedian himself, Rudge said.
“He was very special. He could win people over within a minute of meeting them,” Rudge said. “He loved to laugh and he loved to talk, talk and talk. He would get you on the phone and say goodbye a dozen times and then the conversation would still continue.”
“He is probably one of the best dads. He would do anything for anybody. He had a big heart,” Adam McLaughlin said.
Since its debut on Discovery two years ago, the “American Loggers” reality-TV program has used flashbacks and re-enactments to portray the personal and professional difficulties endured by the Pelletiers — a family of seven brothers and a host of grandchildren — and their workers as they pursue their logging business.
Though his ailments caused him problems, McLaughlin was an excellent man to work with, and Loggers fans were touched by his difficulties, Pelletier said.
“He liked it whenever we had to go on appearances and meet people,” Pelletier said. “He was actually the star of the show. Everywhere we went, people wanted to know how he was doing.”
With the advent of spring mud season, McLaughlin was temporarily laid off from the company, but would have been called back to work in a few weeks, Pelletier said.
McLaughlin liked being on the show, mostly because it gave him a chance to meet new people. He enjoyed the fame, but didn’t seem to be letting it go to his head, Rudge said. Her favorite “American Loggers” story happened when Davey went into a McDonald’s restaurant and was spotted by a 5- or 6-year-old boy.
“He kept tapping his father and saying ‘Dad, Dad, there’s Davey!’” Rudge said. “So Davey had breakfast with them. He just thought it was great.”