BOWDOIN — An 80-year-old Bowdoin man trapped in a ditch under an overturned riding mower was saved by a school bus driver and a student who passed by at just the right time.

Edwin Tynes was clearing his driveway with a snowblower attachment Wednesday morning when the tractor rolled into a ditch filled with icy standing water. Tynes was trapped underneath.

Connie Lailer drives a school bus for Maine School Administrative District 75, which serves Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham. She was at the end of her route on East Burrough Road, about 1.5 miles south of Route 125, when she spotted  Tynes in the ditch shortly after 8 a.m. She reported the emergency and then waded into the water, which was nearly waist-deep in spots, according to Transportation Director Adam Mayo.

She couldn’t lift the tractor off Tynes herself, so a high school student got off the bus and helped.

If it weren’t for Lailer, Tynes may not have survived much longer, said Cpl. Ian Alexander of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office. He was nearby responding to a minor car crash on Route 125 when he heard the emergency call on the radio. He left the driver temporarily to go help.

When Alexander arrived, Tynes was free but soaked from head to toe. Alexander helped get Tynes into the home to change his clothes and wrapped him in a blanket.


Mayo said Tynes had been trapped in the ditch for 20-25 minutes before Lailer found him.

Tynes was suffering from hypothermia. Lisbon medics took Tynes to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. A hospital spokesperson said Wednesday night they had no information about his status.

“I got to say, he should buy a lottery ticket tonight,” Alexander said. “Being on the backroad in Bowdoin, who knows when the next vehicle would have been coming through and it could have been a tragic accident. I guess you could call (Lailer) an angel.”

A Lisbon EMT stopped by the bus garage later on Wednesday to tell Mayo what a difference Lailer made.

Mayo said bus drivers are out on their routes every day during the week so they often come across crashes that they report. They are trained to deal with emergencies and keep the students safe at the same time. Bus drivers are also trained to perform first aid and CPR.

Shortly after the rescue, students were moved to another bus so Lailer could drive back to the bus garage in Topsham and change into dry clothes.

Other bus drivers had blankets and dry clothes waiting for Lailer when she got back to the bus garage and a substitute driver was ready to take her elementary school route, Mayo said.

Mayo said he couldn’t release the student’s name who helped with the rescue. Lailer could not be reached for comment.

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