THE FORKS — Fire Chief Brian Rowe died Friday night while on his way to a fatal snowmobile accident, fire officials and a spokeswoman for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said Saturday.

Rowe, 66, of West Forks, suffered a “medical episode” and died, spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte said in a statement. Rowe was a retired sheriff’s deputy for the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department and a Vietnam veteran, local officials said.

Rowe was driving his truck to a snowmobile accident in which Jason Dodge, 37, of West Gardiner, died of head injuries.

Dodge was killed when he slammed his snowmobile into a 9-inch-thick fir along a trail in The Forks, Turcotte said.

The Forks Fire and Rescue emergency workers also were headed to the snowmobile accident and came to Rowe’s aid, but their efforts were unsuccessful, Turcotte said.

Gordon Berry, owner of Berry’s General Store in West Forks and captain of the combined Forks, West Forks and Caratunk Fire Department, said he was with Rowe just a few minutes before he died. Berry said Rowe probably died of a heart attack.

Rowe, who is survived by his wife, Judy, was well-known and well-liked, Berry said.

The snowmobile accident occurred about 9:30 p.m. on Interconnected Trail System 87, a groomed trail near Boise Road and Moxie Pond in The Forks. The Maine Warden Service was notified at 10:15 p.m.

Dodge was the last operator in a group of five snowmobilers, including his brother, who were traveling from a family camp in Caratunk, according to Turcotte.

Dodge, who was wearing a helmet, failed to negotiate a turn while operating his late-model Ski-Doo 800 Renegade on the icy trail and hit the tree head-on. He suffered head trauma and internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel.

The accident remains under investigation.


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