ORRINGTON, Maine — William “Bill” Jordan, a local woodcutter who was killed Tuesday afternoon when he was caught between a skidder and a tree, told his mom earlier that day that his crew was trying to save a nest of baby owls.
“He came home for lunch and said there was a tree with some baby owls, and they had cut the trees around it trying to avoid it,” Jordan’s mother, Sharon Karl of Holden, said Thursday.
Jordan, 38, was working with a local company, Larry Eckert and Son, and together they had been hired to log a private lot located off Mason Hill Road, said Phil Eckert, Larry Eckert’s father.
“It was a tragic accident,” he said.
The Eckert family is grieving Jordan’s death right along with his family, Phil Eckert said. He said his son told him about the owls while explaining what happened.
First responders received the call for help around 4:25 p.m. Tuesday, and Orrington Fire Department firefighters and rescue crews and Deputy Chad Young quickly determined Jordan was mortally wounded, Sgt. William Birch of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office said.
Karl said her son had a lot of experience working in the woods.
“He started in the woods when he was like 15,” she said. “He wasn’t inexperienced. He had two skidders of his own.”
What Karl has heard since her son’s death is that he and the skidder operator were doing all they could to save the baby birds.
“They were cutting … so they wouldn’t hit the tree with the owls in it or knock the nest out of it,” she said. “There was a tree and he notched it, and the skidder was supposed to knock the tree over and it got him. That is what I’ve been told.”
Skittles, Jordan’s husky dog, was with him and stayed by his side while a medical examiner and officials from the Maine Forest Service and Occupational Safety and Health Administration reviewed the scene on Tuesday, she said.
“They had to carry her out,” Karl said.
Jordan was an avid NASCAR fan and raced at Speedway 95 and around the state with his nephews, according to his obituary. He had two daughters, Macy Karl of Brewer and Krysten Quinn of East Millinocket.
Economic times have been tough in the last year for Jordan, but even so, he helped out those less fortunate, his mother said. He made extra money by selling cut firewood, and would give it away to people who couldn’t afford to pay him.
“He was such a sweet guy,” she said.
Jordan’s funeral services are scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Brookings-Smith Funeral Home on Center Street in Bangor. Friends may call starting at 3 p.m. until the service.
Karl said her heart broke when she heard her son had died, but said she is comforted by the knowledge that he died doing what he loved and he died caring for animals.
“He did save the owls,” she said. “And at least I saw him a couple of hours beforehand.”