The Portland man who shot himself in the head three times with a flare gun Tuesday on Interstate 295 in Freeport is the husband of well-known Maine author Monica Wood, Maine State Police said.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland confirmed Wednesday evening that 65-year-old Daniel Abbott is married to Wood.

Abbott remains in critical condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Wood is the author of seven books, including “When We Were the Kennedys,” a memoir about her childhood in Mexico, Maine, and the loss of her father. She also wrote the play “Papermaker,” based on her novel “Ernie’s Ark,” which premiered at Portland Stage Company last year. The couple have been a strong presence in Maine arts. State police said the incident, which took place just before 10 a.m. Tuesday, is being investigated as an attempted suicide.

Authorities said the incident had the potential to be more destructive because there was a container of propane fuel in the bed of Abbott’s Ford pickup truck. If flames from the fire that started in the cab of the truck had spread to the propane tank there could have been an explosion. Troopers said Abbott had modified his truck to run on propane.

Two passers-by, one of whom had a fire extinguisher in his truck, put the truck fire out and pulled Abbot to safety.

Abbott is a professor at Southern Maine Community College. The college operates campuses in South Portland and Brunswick.

Abbott teaches computer aided design, or CAD, technical graphics, mechanical design and other courses in the Architectural and Engineering Design program.

“He has been a longtime, highly respected professor here,” said college spokesman Clarke Canfield.

Canfield said he could not comment on the flare gun incident, but did confirm that Abbott is married to Wood.

Abbott, who is a Rumford native, was hired in 1989 to teach drafting and to help design a CAD curriculum. He wrote a book about best CAD practices, according to SMCC’s website.

Attempts to reach Wood on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Wood and Abbott have been married for 38 years and met during a community theater production of “The Music Man” in 1976. She grew up in Mexico and Abbott is from the neighboring town of Rumford Point, in western Maine. It was Abbott who encouraged Wood to return to a previously rejected manuscript that became “The One-in-a-Million Boy,” published this month. Wood had given up on the book after a publisher rejected it a few years ago, but Abbott wouldn’t let her. He read the manuscript aloud to her over several days, helping her realize the novel’s potential. She embarked on a rewrite after his efforts to save the novel, which has been met with critical praise.

Staff writer Bob Keyes contributed to this report.

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