SIDNEY — A Sidney man died during the early morning hours Wednesday after crashing on a snowmobile while riding along the shoreline of Messalonskee Lake, marking the second fatality on the water body in as many weeks.

Jeffrey Fisher, 32, was found dead along the lake shore in Sidney shortly before 2 a.m. after becoming separated from a friend during a snowmobile ride, according to a news release Wednesday morning from the Maine Warden Service.

Fisher was driving on the lake near the area of Lily Lane, where he also lived, according to Sidney Fire Chief Richard Jandreau. The warden service cited speed as a likely factor in the crash.

Fisher’s death was the fourth snowmobile fatality so far this winter season, which also has included the death on Jan. 7 of a snowmobiler on Messalonskee Lake in Oakland. That incident, which involved a Massachusetts man falling through thin ice near the Oakland boat landing, prompted volunteers this past weekend to place old Christmas trees in the ice as a warning.

Two fatalities on one lake is unusual, MacDonald said in an interview Wednesday, but the circumstances of the incidents were different and don’t suggest the lake poses a direct hazard to snowmobilers.

“It’s more of a freak thing,” he said.


Ed Pearl, former vice president of Friends of Messalonskee, said it’s not uncommon for people to snowmobile in the area at night, just as it isn’t uncommon for people to drive boats at night in the summer.

However, local people are stunned that there have been two fatalities within two weeks, he said.

“To have two in 10 days — what I’m hearing is it’s shocking,” Pearl said.

Fisher, who was wearing a helmet, appears to have crashed his Arctic Cat snowmobile into the rocks along the shoreline, Cpl. John MacDonald said. He was ejected onto rocks along the lake shore, the wardens determined, and was killed on impact. Paramedics from Delta Ambulance responded and found Fisher dead at the scene of the crash.

Assisting in the Sidney case were members of the Warden Service Evidence Recovery and Forensic Mapping Units, as well as Sidney Fire and Rescue crews, according to the release. The warden service was still at the scene Wednesday morning and the mapping unit was scheduled to continue working throughout the day.

The warden service said it still is investigating the case and an autopsy will be performed on Fisher’s body by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta.


The Maine Warden Service has said that the annual number of crashes has trended downward over the years, but the total tends to fluctuate with the conditions.

From the years 2007 to 2012, there was a median number of five snowmobile fatalities in the state, according to data from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. But that total has doubled or more sometimes in recent years, most recently in the 2007-2008 season, when there were 12 total fatalities.

Last season, 2015-2016, there were five fatalities, MacDonald said. It’s early in the season to have this many fatalities, he said, but there’s also more snowmobile activity as people take advantage of this year’s snowfall following last season’s low snowfall and mild weather.

Speed is a common factor in not only the fatalities the warden service has seen, but also the crashes, according to MacDonald.

“People just need to be reminded to slow down,” he said.

There isn’t a speed limit for snowmobiling in Maine, but state law requires snowmobilers not to exceed a reasonable and prudent speed. It’s also illegal to operate a recreational vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legal limit is the same for driving a car — a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent.


At a news conference late last month in Augusta, the warden service and the Maine Snowmobile Association highlighted the need for snowmobile safety as the season got underway. The most common factors in snowmobile crashes, according to Maine Warden Service data, are driving too fast for conditions, beyond the effectiveness of headlights and beyond the operator’s abilities.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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