A 13-year-old Skowhegan Area Middle School student died Monday night after crashing the dirt bike he had bought just a day earlier, according to his father.

John Hovey IV suffered fatal injuries when his 2001 Suzuki went off the side of Eggemoggin Road on Little Deer Isle, an island in Penobscot Bay beside Deer Isle. The teen struck a utility pole around 7:41 p.m. Monday, Deputy Jeff McFarland, of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, told the Ellsworth American newspaper. Hovey, who was wearing a helmet, chest protector and racing boots at the time, was ejected from the bike and died at the scene.

The teen’s father, John Hovey III, was in his home roughly 100 yards away when the crash happened. The pole John Hovey IV struck was at the entrance of a dirt pit that he had been riding around in with his father’s permission. Typically, the older Hovey can hear the sound of engines running at the pit from his residence.

John Hovey IV, 13, pictured in 2018, played football for Skowhegan Area Middle School. Courtesy of Janine Stadig

“I was washing my hands, and when I came out of the bathroom, I didn’t hear the bike running, so I went out on the porch (and a friend of mine) ran down the road to see if he had stalled or something,” John Hovey III said in an interview Wednesday. “He came back screaming up to my house to get help, and I immediately went down and called 911.”

McFarland is investigating the crash and has not reported its cause yet. Deer Isle Fire Department and Memorial Ambulance and other members of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office went to the scene.

John Hovey III said that what he experienced Monday night is something he “wouldn’t wish upon anybody.”

“We did CPR, and an EMT lives across from my house and came immediately,” John Hovey III said. “Everybody did everything they could do. There was just nothing we could do. He hit his head on the pole and the helmet shattered.”

John Hovey IV, who lived in Skowhegan with his mother on weekdays during the school year, had been spending the summer working at his father’s construction company, John Hovey & Sons. He was a member of Skowhegan Area Middle School’s football and wrestling teams and competed in the 137-pound weight class.

“He could do anything,” John Hovey III said. “He was smart. He was great at anything he did. You could teach him something once and he would learn and never ask about it again. He was a phenomenal kid.”

John Hovey IV’s mother, Janine Stadig, who owns Alice’s Restaurant in Skowhegan, said he was always quick to lend a hand, enjoyed joking around with longtime patrons and was a “huge part of that community.”

“I have a group of customers who come in at 5 a.m. until he gets on the school bus, and they just would laugh and joke with him over the years,” Stadig said. “(John) would have water fights with customers, he’d been duct-taped to a chair by an adult, they’d pick on him about his clothes, like, ‘Where does that fashion come from, Johnny boy, little John?’ And there was a really special customer who used to take him to school every Friday.” 

John Hovey III said his son loved hunting and fishing and had bought the 2001 Suzuki with the money he had earned working for his father during the summers.

“He was so proud of that dirt bike,” John Hovey III said. “He got that dirt bike Sunday and died on it Monday night. Sunday night he was sitting out in my barn revving it up and sending his friends recordings of the noise.”

John Hovey IV, center, with his friends Asher and Dalton from Skowhegan Area Middle School. Courtesy of Janine Stadig

John Hovey IV also liked to teach his classmates about lobstering, had a large sneaker collection that he took pride in and was a bit of a “ladies’ man,” Stadig noted.

“John was amazing,” she said through tears. “They don’t make boys like John every day. He was a hard worker, a smart aleck, and he had so many friends in town. … That smile of his and that twinkle in his eye when he did something, and you just wanted to be mad at him but you couldn’t.”

Stadig said that she’s “a mess, like any mother would be,” but she is grateful for the support she has received this week from Skowhegan residents this week.

“The community is coming together, and I’d like to thank them for what they’re doing and for the outpouring of support,” she said Wednesday evening. “I just drove through town and some kids were out there with signs. One was his classmate. One of cops in town had gotten them a poster board so they could make (the sign) bigger, and that was really sweet of her.” 

John Hovey IV was a half brother to two adult sisters and 5-year-old Jacob Stadig, who also lives in Skowhegan most of the year and spends weekends with John Hovey III.

“I don’t know if I will ever heal from this,” John Hovey III said.

“There isn’t going to be a day that goes by that I don’t think of my son, and I love him so much,” Stadig added. 

 

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