Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Local Tragedy

My home town suffered a tragedy a week ago. A lady who summers here on my own favorite lake, Wilson Pond, lost her brakes in a borrowed pickup truck going down over the hill on my street, Pleasant Street, accelerated while she apparently tried everything she could try to slow down the truck short of crashing it into the ditch or the houses on our street, then ran the stop sign at the bottom of our hill, crossed a parking lot, and broke through the railing of the boardwalk, plunging into Moosehead Lake. Attempts by three local businessmen to rescue her failed and she drowned before responders could rescue her. Apparently the emergency brake was missing a segment of cable and both the front right and rear right brake lines failed. I have been told that the pickup had a manual transmission and it appears that she tried to downshift, damaging the transmission in the process.
I have traveled this hill nearly all my life. The hill is one of the steepest in town and it flattens out less than a hundred yards from the stop sign. It has been my recurring nightmare, sleeping and awake, that I would find myself without brakes going down this hill and wind up crashing into the lake. I'm not alone when it comes to that fear. It's shared by many who use this street to enter town. I can only imagine the terror this woman felt as she helplessly plunged through the stop sign and shot into the lake.
I commend the rescue efforts of the three local businessmen, Mike Boutin who owns Northwoods Outfitters, Chris Fenn, one of Boutin's employees, and another local businessman Gary Deflethsen who bravely dove into Moosehead Lake working themselves to exhaustion attempting the rescue. They are reported to have said the woman herself appeared to be unconscious and unable to help herself. The article in this week's Moosehead Messenger goes on to say that even our town manager John Simco donned a wetsuit and joined the rescue effort, but the Bangor Daily News reported on Saturday that it was 30 minutes before trained rescuers were able to break into the truck fifteen feet under water and bring the lady's body up. It would appear to me that the woman's only chance of survival was the rescue attempt by these three brave local businessmen. Again, I commend their efforts.
Should such a nightmare ever happen to myself, my wife, my children, or any of my friends or extended family, I would hope that there would be men and women in this town brave enough to risk their lives to rescue us. Damn the warnings reportedly later given by Simco and published in Saturday's Bangor Daily News. Quoting the article, not Simco directly, "people need to be very careful in such situations. The first rule of any rescue effort is to keep yourself safe. One or all of the men could have been overcome and required a rescue which would have made the task even more difficult for first responders."
All who attempted the rescue are heroes in my eyes. Damn Simco's warnings!

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