AUGUSTA – Saying her husband’s life was not worth less because he was killed by a snowmobiler instead of a motorist, Patricia Levesque of Wales told legislators Thursday that Maine must make failure to report a snowmobile or ATV accident a felony.

Levesque is the widow of Robert Levesque, who was killed two years ago after a speeding snowmobiler hit and left him dying on the ice.

Unlike motor vehicle accidents, “right now it is not illegal to leave the scene of a snowmobile or ATV accident,” said Rep. Nancy Smith, D-Monmouth, sponsor of L.D. 1220. It needs to be illegal, she said.

Under the proposed law, it would be a Class C felony only when someone fled the scene knowingly “leaving someone behind” who was injured, testified Col. Tom Santaguida of the Maine Warden Service.

On a December night in 2002, Steven Davies, 37, of Sabattus was driving his snowmobile 70 miles per hour and struck Levesque, who was walking along the shore of Sabattus Pond.

To avoid prosecution, Davies fled the scene and drove his snowmobile to the home of his brother-in-law, who helped him hide the snowmobile. The brother-in-law then went out on the lake and hauled the badly injured Levesque to his home, where emergency help was finally called.

Levesque died on the way to the hospital.

Initially, Davies lied to authorities, saying he did not hit anyone. He later admitted he hit Levesque after a piece of broken windshield with Davies’ snowmobile registration number was found at the scene. In July 2004, Davies was sentenced to 364 days in jail for falsifying evidence and fined $500 for failure to report an accident, a civil violation.

That kind of punishment is too light, “and it’s wrong,” Mrs. Levesque said.

She told members of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee that she cannot change what happened to her husband and family, but the pain was made worse when they discovered that the punishment was unjust.

“Bob was hit, dragged 193 feet and left to die,” Levesque said. “He is in God’s hands and I have to let go. I can only hope and pray that this never happens to any of your loved ones. Our goal is to save any other family from going through an ordeal like ours.”

“We spurred to action by heartbreak,” agreed Levesque’s daughter, Michelle Lajoie of Yarmouth, who said the family has experienced “pure anguish.” After the accident they believed there would be some justice through the courts. When there was not, “it was like salt on the wounds,” she said.

Her brother testified that if his father received help immediately, he may have lived.

Marc Levesque said there were several homes less than 200 feet from the crash scene “with their lights on. But he (Davies) stopped, turned and saw a human, freaked and took off.”

Since losing her husband, Patricia Levesque now lives in Lewiston during the winter. The sounds of snowmobiles speeding by on the lake is too painful, she said.

No one testified in opposition Thursday.

The Maine Warden Service, ATV of Maine, and the Maine Snowmobile Association testified for the bill.

“We strongly support this,” said Bob Meyers of the Maine Snowmobile Association. “It would really surprise me if anyone would have the nerve to stand up and oppose this.”

Most snowmobilers have “the common decency” to help those they may have hurt. Those who do not need to be punished, Meyers said.

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