August 18, 2018
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Climber, 68, dies in 1,000 foot fall in Baxter State Park

By Dawn Gagnon and Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Updated:

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — A 68-year-old Holden man died Saturday after falling more than 1,000 feet down the icy surface of the Abol Slide in the park, according to a press release issued Monday.

Though Park Director Jenson Bissell said it is park policy not to release the name of the deceased, Brookings-Smith Funeral Home in Bangor confirmed Monday that it is handling arrangements for John H. Stetson.

Stetson had been camping at Daicey Pond Campground with a larger group, Bissell said in the release.

Stetson was hiking with a companion and the two were attempting to climb Mount Katahdin on the Abol Trail, according to the park director. Near the top of the trail, where it intersects with the top of Abol Slide, the man lost his footing and fell more than 1,000 feet before coming to rest near the bottom of the open section of the slide, Bissell reported.

Stetson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Park rangers were alerted to the event by other climbers in the area and were assisted in the recovery of Stetson’s body by those climbers and members of the Wilderness Rescue Team, the release said.

A 1966 graduate of Bangor High School, Stetson attended the University of Maine, where he studied civil engineering, graduating with honors, according to his obituary. He was founder of Stetson and Watson Co. and owned a small transport company that operated out of Mann Hill Road in Holden.

He routinely enjoyed outdoor activities, including iceboating, skiing, running and hiking, his obituary said.

Steston is survived by his wife of 40 years, Alanna Steston, their four children and several grandchildren.

Stetson’s was the second death in the park this month.

A New Hampshire man was found dead Feb. 5 near the outlet of Abol Pond after separating from his seven-member skiing group that Sunday.

He was 56 and died after suffering what Bissell called “a medical event.”

That man his companions had been in the park at Chimney Pond Campground for two days before Sunday’s 17-mile skiing trip. Two hikers found the man. Baxter State Park Rangers responded and were subsequently assisted by a Maine game warden and the Millinocket Fire Department, officials said.

The two deaths this month were the first fatalities in Baxter State Park since a lightning strike killed a 24-year-old man from Peaks Island in Portland in 2007, according to park officials.

According to Brookings-Smith, visiting hours for Stetson are set for 6-8 p.m. on Thursday at 133 Center St. in Bangor. A funeral service will take place at the same location at 3 p.m. on Friday.


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