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May 14, 2012

Off-roaders were still in their seats when found dead

Revving the engine to escape a bog may have sent deadly carbon monoxide into the cabin.

Video from WGME Sunday night newscast

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WINDSOR — Reginald "Skip" Gay, his wife, Samantha Davis Gay, and their friend Luke Thompson went out for some off-roading Friday night and never came back.

The three were found dead Saturday evening in their vehicle, which appeared to have gotten stuck in a bog under power lines just off Crosby Road. They were seated normally in the Gays' custom Jeep Wrangler and had no visible signs of trauma.

Reginald Gay, 41, was driving, Thompson, 22, of China, was in the front passenger seat, and Samantha Gay, 33, was seated on a cooler in the back.

Police released their identities Sunday after family members were notified of the deaths.

Preliminary findings suggest the three may have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, said Capt. Dan Davies of the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office.

"It appears the Jeep may have gotten stuck in the bog," Davies said in a news release. "Speculation is that efforts by Reginald Gay to get free from the mire by accelerating caused excessive exhaust to enter the passenger compartment and overcome the occupants. Only the two front windows were open when the Jeep was located. With no direct air flow to remove the fumes, and the V-8 revving excessively, the survivability rating under those circumstances would be grim at best."

The Gays lived a short distance down Crosby Road from the bog, in a home with multiple four-wheel-drive vehicles in the yard. Local residents said Reginald Gay was heavily involved in off-roading.

Photographs of him competing in mud runs and "tough truck" events in modified Jeeps are featured on multiple websites.

Davies said the custom Jeep they were in was outfitted with a powerful V-8 engine and oversized mud tires.

The trio left the Gays' home around 7 p.m. Friday. After not hearing from them, a family member used another Jeep to search for the group. The relative spotted their blue-and-white Jeep in the bog at the bottom of a ravine about 300 yards off the road shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday.

"It's extremely unfortunate these three people lost their lives on the eve of Mother's Day," Davies said. "All three victims have mothers who live locally and won't be celebrating this year. It's very sad."

Weeks Mills resident Don Audet heard about the incident Sunday morning before he got to work at Hussey's General Store, the local hub of activity in Windsor.

"Skip was the kind of guy who would do anything for anybody," Audet said. "Generous. Tall and rugged-looking, like someone you wouldn't want to mess with, but really he was as sweet as pie. One of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. Very outgoing. You never saw him without a smile on his face."

Audet said that when he heard about the deaths, he reflected on the death of his own son, who was in a car accident many years ago.

Members of the Maine Warden Service helped sheriff's deputies access the Jeep in the bog. It was removed from the water by Ready Road Towing of Augusta.

The state Medical Examiner's Office, which could not be reached Sunday, will determine the cause of the deaths.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

kedwards@centralmaine.com

 

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