It’s not often that a candidate searching for folks to sign election paperwork winds up hustling to try to save injured people in the middle of the Maine woods, but it happened this week to Garret Swazey, a Republican angling to win a congressional seat.

Republican congressional candidate Garret Swazey with his snowmobile earlier this winter. Submitted photo

Hoping to have some fun and gather some signatures to get on the ballot this year, Swazey, a Bangor accountant, hopped on his snowmobile Tuesday and hit trails between Mount Katahdin and Greenville, a town at the south end of Moosehead Lake.

Swazey, aiming to make the cut for the June 14 primary that will choose the Republican congressional candidate in Maine’s 2nd District, was cruising along through the woods when he spotted a group of snowmobilers ahead of him.

They went around a curve, he said, and he soon followed.

He immediately came across a pile of snowmobiles strewn across the path, with one man screaming for help and an older man facedown in the snow.

Swazey said he helped turn the injured man over but realized he couldn’t do much more. They needed assistance.


Just then, though, a guy coming from the other direction couldn’t negotiate the turn amid all the chaos. He crashed as well, Swazey said.

Swazey said he raced to the wounded man’s side, relieved to find he was breathing, but the man was gurgling in a scary way.

A screenshot from Garret Swazey’s phone showing the approximate location of the snowmobile accident he witnessed on Tuesday.

Nobody had cellphone service at the site.

Swazey said he offered to race toward Greenville to find a point where he could call in the emergency, while someone else went back the way they’d come to do the same. He said he checked for service as he crested every hill, but had to proceed at least 10 miles before he could get a signal and call in the crash at 12:25 p.m., discovering that dispatchers already knew.

Then he rushed back to the crash scene to see if he could do anything to assist. When he got there, he said, one man was covered with a sheet, which Swazey took to mean he had died.

“It’s horrible. It’s horrible,” said a shaken Swazey. “Just a helpless feeling.”


Lt. Kris Barboza of the Maine Warden Service said Wednesday that while an investigation is continuing, it is clear there was a head-on collision on the 110 Connector trail.

One man is dead — 48-year-old Richard Jenner of Weymouth, Massachusetts — and another is in critical condition: Charles Holbrook, 58, of Phippsburg, according to Barboza.

Barboza said Holbrook had been towing his son’s sled behind him when the accident occurred. Jenner, he said, was part of a group from Massachusetts and driving a rented snowmobile.

Swazey said he’s not sure how the crash happened. There were some icy spots, he said, and perhaps one played a role.

He called it “a tragic situation” that left him shaken.

“I just wanted to get home and hug my son,” Swazey said.


Swazey said he has a bit fewer than half of the thousand signatures he needs to turn in by March 15. He said he hoped to add some more along the trail because snowmobilers are generally friendly to one another.

“It’s kind of a way to get some trust with locals” to work on the trails, he said. Mostly, though, he just likes to get out on his snowmobile.

Swazey is one of three contenders in the GOP primary that also includes former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Orrington and Liz Caruso of Caratunk, neither of whom have turned in their petitions, but both have said they are nearly ready to do so.

The winner of the primary will hold the GOP line in the Nov. 8 general election against two-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat in a vulnerable seat. At least one independent, Tiffany Bond of Portland, is gathering signatures to make the ballot as well.

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