We all mourn, but in Rangeley life must go on

Our hearts are with the families of the three men lost on Rangeley Lake, but the more we examine the issue the more apparent it becomes that the Rangeley Snodeo, scheduled for next week, must go on.

The trio, Kenneth Henderson of China, Glen Henderson of Sabattus and John Spencer of Litchfield apparently went through thin ice on the evening of Dec. 30th.

The men were all in their early 40s and are now deeply mourned by their friends, families and communities.

The Warden Service searched the lake for four days with air boats, side scan sonar and a Maine Forest Service aircraft before the lake surface became too unsafe to continue.

They quickly located the men's helmets and gloves, and believe they have located the snowmobiles in 70 feet of water.

But the men have been missing ever since, which has understandably tormented their families.

The Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club plans all year for its upcoming Snodeo, a large gathering of snowmobile enthusiasts from several states.

The three-day festival is scheduled for Jan. 24-26, when the ice is usually guaranteed to be safe enough for sledding.

The Club decided the event was too important to the local economy to cancel and has decided to move forward.

That decision outraged several members of one family who began a Facebook campaign to have snowmobilers boycott the event.

While sledders are, of course, free to make their own decisions, they should consider several facts.

Thousands of people have built this event into their schedules or vacations and have reservations with local motels. Meanwhile, local merchants ranging from snow machine dealers to restaurants and stores depend upon the event for revenue.

Most of the Snodeo events occur off the lake, on public property or at local snowmobile dealers.

Several lake events, including a radar run, poker run and parade occur on the other side of the lake from where the incident occurred. The lake is large, ten square miles, which is about three times the size of Lake Auburn.

There have been unfortunate times when lives are lost and bodies unrecoverable for a period of time.

Last year, a skier slipped into a crevasse at Tuckerman Ravine. After lowering rescuers into the crevasse to retrieve the body, a decision was made to go no further. The body was later recovered in the late spring.

In Rangeley, there is still hope that these men can be located soon, perhaps even before Snodeo begins, which would resolve the problem.

The Warden Service plans to lower a submersible robot through a hole in the ice to continue searching, once the ice is thick enough to withstand the weight of searchers and equipment. If the bodies are found, divers will try to bring the men to the surface and return them to their loved ones.

Life, of course, will never be the same for the three families and the friends of the men lost on the lake.

We can empathize with them and respect their grief, but life in this recreation-dependent Maine community cannot stand still.


The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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ERNEST LABBE's picture

When was the last

My sincere sympathies to all the family and friends of these three fine men.


Other than the time it takes to clear the wreckage. When was the last the turnpike or any other road was shut down because of a fatal accident.

Steve  Dosh's picture

We all mourn, but in Rangeley life must go on

Mainers 13.01.17 13;13 hst ?
" The show must go on ." - Freddie Mercury & Elton John
/s, Dr . Dosh & ohana , HI

Noel Foss's picture

Well put.

These men did something foolish and irresponsible. There's no reason to cancel the Snodeo because of it. They don't shut down Saddleback because somebody hits a tree skiing blindfolded.

 's picture

ya. we don't close the fun

ya. we don't close the fun park just because someone gets killed on the roller coaster. this event is far too important to the economics of the region, the businesses need this. so what if someone else gets killed out on the ice during this event, it's the fun and economic factors that are important. and the beer and racing at over 100 miles per hour after midnight on unstable ice, of course.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Allisa, I'm confused.

Your first sentence makes perfect sense, but is the rest of your post sarcastic?
I'll expand on your first sentence. If 3 jockeys collided on the racetrack during practice in Fryeburg a month before the fair and were killed, could Fryeburg possibly afford to cancel the Fryeburg Fair? Trust me, it would never happen!

GARY SAVARD's picture

Any way you look at it, these

Any way you look at it, these three people are gone, unfortunately, and disrupting the economy of Rangeley will not bring them back. The Snodeo had nothing to do with their deaths, nor did anyone in Rangeley. Why punish people that had nothing to do with this tragic incident? These three men made a bad decision, and it cost them their lives. When conditions permit, recovery will be resumed and, most likely completed. Life goes on.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .†hink and drive .

. .†hink and drive . Slednecks unite . Accidents happen • *<;-Q~ /s Steve , Hawai'i ...

AL PELLETIER's picture

Hey Steve

-20 here tonight. When you jump on your surf board make sure you don't hit a snow bank. Man I envy you!!!!


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