Selectman Harlan Abbott died late Sunday.

WEST PARIS – Two well-known West Paris men are dead, and a third is in critical condition following Sunday’s plane crash at the end of a fishing trip to a remote pond east of Greenville.

Two-term Selectman Harlan Abbott, 67, died at midnight Sunday from burns after being rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Vernon Inman, 77, a former town meeting moderator and longtime Paris Hill postmaster, was killed in the crash.

The crash happened as Inman, Abbott and William Aridas were being flown in a small float plane back to Greenville after a weekend fishing trip on remote Horseshoe Pond.

“Everybody’s going to miss them terribly,” said Jane Perham, owner of Perham’s of West Paris and an active participant in community affairs. She described both men as being very community oriented, as well as being good friends.

In a community of 1,722 people “where everybody knows everybody,” she said, “it’s especially difficult to lose somebody in such a difficult way.”

Aridas, in his 60s, who also suffered severe burns over most of his body, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon. Aridas is Inman’s son-in-law.

The three men were part of a group of six men from West Paris who were flown to a camp on the pond Friday for a weekend of fishing. The crash happened on the second trip, after the Cessna 206 had already flown Inman’s son Walter, Randall Jones, 40, and his 9-year-old son ,Matthew Jones, back to Greenville.

Walter Inman, who is postmaster at the Bryant Pond post office, could not speak about the crash when contacted Monday.

Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said the pilot, Richard Dill, 32, of Greenville told a Maine State Police trooper that the engine stalled after takeoff, and the plane clipped some trees and crashed into the base of Elephant Mountain, near Horseshoe Pond. The plane burst into flames after impact, and Dill was burned when he pulled Abbott and Aridas from the plane, McCausland said.

Dill was taken to a Greenville hospital, where he was treated and released.

Selectman Wade Rainey said Monday he and the other remaining selectman, Howard Gurney, will probably hold a special town meeting in October to elect a person to replace Abbott.

“He just loved to go fishing,” Rainey said of Abbott. “He was really excited about this trip.”

Inman also was an avid fisherman, Perham said. “The Inmans have always been a family that loved to hunt and fish a lot,” she said.

Robert Hancock of the New England division of the National Transportation Safety Board said an NTSB investigator arrived Monday and is beginning to gather information. Hancock said it will likely take six months before a probable cause of the crash will be determined. “We’re in the very preliminary stages of the investigation,” he said.

Abbott, who lived with his wife, Fay, on Ray Road, was an active selectman who chaired the Oxford County Municipal Officers Association and worked with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments to coordinate its Hazardous Waste Collection Day.

“He worked very, very hard at the job of selectman; it’s a thankless job,” said Perham. Like Inman, he was active in the historical society. He also chaired the Old Home Days Committee.

Inman, who lived on Greenwood Street, moderated town meetings until six or seven years ago, and was the announcer at the Derby Hill races, Rainey said. He belonged to the Ring-McKeen American Legion Post No. 151, and was the liaison between the legion and the local Boy Scout troop. He and his wife, Miriam, who died in April, were longstanding members of the West Paris Universalist Church.


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