Police are seeking photos, video footage and written statements from witnesses as they investigate a go-cart accident Saturday that fatally injured a Shriner during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest parade.

Three members of the Anah Shriners of Bangor were driving go-carts up and over a GMC Suburban in Newcastle Square when one flipped over as he came down a ramp. The other two crashed into him.

Marvin Tarbox Jr. of Hancock, who was driving the first go-cart, was taken to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, where he died. Tarbox was 59.

Hundreds of people were in Newcastle Square when the crash occurred. Will Monsell, who was among the spectators, said the crowd gasped at the accident and parents yanked their children away from the crash area.

“It was a very ugly scene,” he said.

The accident happened near the beginning of the parade, which starts in Newcastle and goes over a bridge into Damariscotta, where 10,000 other people were waiting. Among them was Newcastle Town Administrator Ron Grenier.

“Nobody really realized something had happened until the parade had concluded,” he said.

Grenier said most people found out about the accident because Main Street was closed and they had to take detours to leave town after the event.

Although news of the crash didn’t spread quickly through the crowd, the accident had a lasting effect on the festival, which ended Monday, Grenier said.

“It really put a pall over the rest of the weekend,” he said. “We’re a small community, and when something like this happens, it’s like it happened to one of our own.”

The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta is a five-year tradition that draws more than 30,000 people over Columbus Day weekend. This was the first year the Shriners participated in the parade, said Phyllis Guss, who handles publicity for the event.

Guss said a moment of silence was held for Tarbox before the regatta Sunday morning. The Newcastle Select Board planned to recognize Tarbox at its meeting Monday night, Grenier said.

Joe Kitchen, a fellow Shriner, described Tarbox on Monday as a pleasant man with a warm smile. He was originally from the Aroostook County town of Washburn, Kitchen said, and was working as an equipment installer for FairPoint Communications when he died.

Kitchen didn’t know whether the death of Tarbox, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, would spur changes to safety precautions taken by the Shriners’ go-cart unit. Phone calls to officers from Anah Shriners and Shriners International were not returned Monday.

Sgt. Jason Nein of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department said investigators are interested in still pictures, videos or even written statements describing what spectators saw.

Tarbox crashed onto the pavement as he drove the go-cart on a ramp extending from the rear of the Suburban, over its roof and down to the front of the vehicle.

Nein said investigators want to reconstruct the accident to find out whether the ramp collapsed because of the crash or whether the crash was caused by the ramp’s failure.

Hundreds of people saw the accident, and some shot video or still pictures of it, he said.

Nein said he can be reached by email at [email protected]

Shriners International is a fraternal organization with about 325,000 members in the United States and several other countries. It supports 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Shriners are a familiar part of parades as their go-carts follow carefully choreographed routes.

Saturday’s accident was not the first involving Shriners’ mini-vehicles. In Chattanooga, Tenn., a mini car and a dune buggy collided while their drivers circled each other during a parade in 2007. One of the vehicles ran into the crowd, sending five people to a hospital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]


 This is a YouTube video of the Shriners performing at the 2010 Yarmouth Clam Festival