DIXFIELD, Maine — Two men’s lives were lost in snowmobile crashes this weekend, and several others were injured in separate incidents.
“Due to the recent fluctuations in temperature, many of the trails are icy, and riders need to slow down and remain in control. Snowmobilers operating at night are reminded to not overdrive their headlights and to never mix alcohol and riding,” Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said in a press release issued late Saturday night.
In Dixfield, a man who was riding his snowmobile on Route 2 at about 12:45 a.m. Saturday refused to stop when a Dixfield police officer tried to flag him down. The local man, whom police have not yet identified, was fatally injured when he lost control of his snowmobile, went off the paved road and hit a snowbank, according to Trooper Jason Wing of the Maine State Police.
“The police officer did not touch the snowmobile prior to him crashing. He was a significant distance from the snowmobile,” Wing said Sunday morning, adding that the officer provided rescue breathing to the operator after the crash. “At this point, I’m waiting on blood results from the snowmobile operator. Witnesses at the scene said they could smell alcohol.”
Wing said he would release the names of both the man who died and the police officer involved in the next day or two, pending notification of more family members. The incident is still under investigation, he said, with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office assisting with accident reconstruction. The eastbound lane of the major east-west thoroughfare was closed for several hours after the crash.
Less than an hour before that fatal incident, a Massachusetts man died in Byron, also in Oxford County, when he struck a parked snow plow while riding along the private East Branch Road. A woman who lived near the crash called 911, according to Warden Brock Clukey.
Leonardo V. Rodrigue, 34, of Everett, Mass., suffered head and general trauma in the accident. He was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center, where he died of his injuries, Clukey said. Oxford County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police officials also responded to the scene.
Rodrigue had been with three other snowmobilers, one of whom was arrested by police for operating a snowmobile under the influence. William Ashmore Jr., 39, of Boston was taken to Oxford County Jail. The Maine Warden Service is investigating the crash, and officials believe speed and alcohol were factors, according to MacDonald.
Wardens on the other side of the state responded early Saturday morning to a report of an ATV that had gone through the ice on Round Pond in Steuben. Everett Mathews Jr. of Cherryfield had been operating his 2012 Polaris Ranger on the pond when he broke through the ice into water that was about 12 feet deep. Mathews was able to get out of the water and back to the safety of his camp, according to MacDonald. Efforts are being made to retrieve the ATV from the pond.
Wardens also responded to three other personal injury crashes over the first part of the weekend, including two in Franklin County and one in Aroostook. While the victims were transported to hospitals with broken bones, none of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening. According to MacDonald, one of the crashes in Franklin County was alcohol-related and remains under investigation.