Chester man rebounds from snowmobile crash

Posted Feb. 10, 2011, at 8:07 p.m.

CHESTER,  Maine  — A snowmobiling accident late last month nearly killed him, but Greg Richard Sr. wants to get back to work and back on a snowmobile.

The accident “wasn’t the fault of the sled,” Richard said wryly during a telephone interview from his home on Thursday.

The owner of Richard’s Sports Shop in Lincoln suffered a broken sternum, several broken ribs, a lacerated spleen, a brain injury — a subdural hematoma — and a fracture that he said exploded the socket and sinus area around his right eye after he apparently failed to negotiate a left turn and struck several trees on Jan. 22.

“I guess I nearly bled out,” Richard said.

According to the Maine Warden Service, the 61-year-old was operating a 1999 Polaris snowmobile with his son Greg Richard Jr., 38, also of Chester, riding at approximately 9 p.m. They were on an access road heading from Pocumcus Lake in Township 6 Range 1, west of Grand Lake Stream, to a parking area at Elsemore Landing to help a friend with an ice shack.

“I think it was a combination of all these things that should be done in the daytime. But then, when you have two or three people in your party that have to move this big ice shack that are working in the daytime, the only time you can move it is at night,” Richard said.

A friend took Richard in his truck to meet Indian Township Ambulance, which took him to Calais Regional Hospital. Richard was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He was in critical condition for several days before his release on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Information on the accident investigation wasn’t immediately available. The primary investigator, Warden Brad Richard, did not return a telephone message left with dispatchers. Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said she had no new information to share.

Richard said he has almost no memory of the accident, but he knows that neither he nor his son was wearing a snowmobile helmet. He does not believe he was traveling at an excessive speed, but snowdrifts and wind that blew snow into large drifts made it difficult to see.

Richard said that his son “said that sitting behind me it sounded as though the engine RPMs weren’t high, but he couldn’t see” the speedometer.

“They say sometimes you never remember those things, but my recall, reasoning, math skills and speech and that stuff all seems to be normal now. They said that before they released me,” Richard said. “In fact, I just got off the treadmill.”

Richard has received many get-well cards and inquiries about his health, for which he expressed gratitude. He hopes to return to work next week.

He has been itching to get back to the store, said Kurt Hartford, a technician at Richard’s, which sells snowmobiles, ATVs and other recreational equipment from its Route 6 location.

“He is doing a lot better,” Hartford said.

“It greatly eased my mind to know my crew [in the store] were pulling together as a team to keep business normal in my absence. It took a great deal off my mind to know that I had quality, capable people in there,” Richard said.

Still, it seemed to gnaw at him somewhat that after 40 years of injury-free riding of snowmobiles and motorcycles, this accident occurred during one of the best snowmobile seasons in recent memory.

“And here I am, laid up,” he said with a sigh.

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