ETNA, Maine — An Etna man was arrested late Tuesday night after a search in a wooded, boggy area that began about 8 p.m. in Stetson and ended a few hours later in Etna.
Police say that David Whitney, 38, rolled his car, ditched it and then fled into the nearby woods.
When Whitney was found more than two hours later, he was cold and wet up his knees but otherwise none the worse for wear, Deputy James Kennedy of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.
Whitney was charged with operating under the influence and failure to report an accident by the quickest means, Kennedy said. Whitney was taken to the Newport police station for Intoxilyzer testing and released on bail from there late Tuesday night.
The episode that led to Whitney’s arrest began about 8 p.m while he was traveling on Coboro Road in Stetson. He reportedly reached the stop sign at the intersection with Lakins Road and lost control of his Subaru station wagon, which rolled onto its side.
From there, Whitney apparently fled into the nearby woods, leaving a trail of footprints behind in the snow, Kennedy said.
“He got a good head start on us,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, along with Penobscot County sheriff’s Deputy Garrit McKee and Maine State Police Trooper Douglas Franklin, tracked Whitney’s footprints along a meandering trail that led into Etna. Also called in to help with the search was Game Warden Josh Tibbetts, Kennedy said.
Kennedy estimated that the authorities followed Whitney’s footprints for about four miles.
“It went uphill and downhill and across bogs,” Kennedy said. “He kept circling around around.” Kennedy said the trail that police followed indicated that Whitney broke through the ice in several boggy spots along the way.
While authorities were tracking him, the suspect reportedly spotted a snowmobile and tried to flag its driver for a ride. What he did not know, however, was that the sled was being operated by Warden Tibbetts, Kennedy said.
Whitney was taken into custody after McKee spotted him near the snowmobile trail near Bunker Road in Etna and alerted Sgt. William Birch, who was approaching the area and made the arrest, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said that Whitney did not disclose to police why he ran off into the woods. The deputy speculated, however, that Whitney might have fled the crash site because he held a conditional driver’s license because of a prior OUI conviction.
The Subaru had only minor damage, Kennedy said.