Samantha Collins (now Bono) nearly lost her life 20 years ago after striking a tree while skiing at Sunday River. The 15-year-old was knocked unconscious immediately and lay off the beaten trail.

Collins first memories did not come back until three weeks after her life-changing accident, and the question became who were the rescuers who first arrived on the scene?

A photo of Collins the day of her accident. submitted photo

An article ran in the Citizen a few weeks ago asking anyone with information to come forward. Collins was hoping the story would reach her rescuer.

Two people have called her since, and both were at the scene.

After the article got nearly 2,000 comments and shares combined on Facebook, along with the circulation through print, she was contacted by Chris Perry and David Hathaway, who both said they were there.

“It’s like part of you that’s been missing has been found, it’s somebody who holds this big piece in my life,” Collins said.

Perry was working for Sunday River Ski Patrol at the time, but was not on duty when Collins crashed. It was a busy day on the slopes and he thought it would be a good idea to have his radio with him in case of an emergency. Once he heard of Collins’ accident, he rushed to the scene.

After they transported Collins down the trail, they got her into the ambulance. Life Flight was currently having issues and was unsure if they were going to be able to make it to the mountain.

Since Perry was also a paramedic, he rode in the ambulance with the other responders. When the ambulance was near Bethel, they received a call saying Life Flight was on the way. They met the helicopter at the Bethel Airport and from there Collins was flown to Central Maine Medical Center. Perry believed the shorter ride helped out the situation immensely.

Perry said Head of Ski Patrol Tim Bruce and ski patrol member Matt Bailey played huge roles in assisting Collins and that ultimately the ski patrols “quick and appropriate actions” saved her life. He said there were other people present, but that he cannot remember their names.

Memories of the accident often crossed his mind during the wintertime and he always wondered how Collins had made out.

“I’ve been thinking about her over the years and I’m really glad we got in touch and I’m psyched that she’s doing so well,” he said.

Perry said Collins’ accident was one of the worst he’d ever witnessed.

Not knowing for a long time what actually happened was tough and finally finding out was awesome, he said.

Perry now works at Maine Medical Center as a Nurse.

Hathaway, the other man present, is a lawyer in Lewiston and Augusta. He lives in Auburn.

He found the article on his social media feed, and the headline triggered the memory. Once he read the article, he knew he was the one.

He was the first person on scene and was alone with Collins until the ski patrol arrived. Hathaway remembers several members of ski patrol being present as well as other mountain employees. He believes one of the employees was driving a snowmobile and the other was helping direct ski traffic.

Like Perry, Hathaway has thought of the accident over the years. He was fortunate to hear how well Collins had made out, he said.

“It’s an incredible story,” he said.

Hathaway and Collins plan to meet up the next time she travels to the New England area.

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