Not a day goes by that Cindy Thompson doesn’t think about her son, Ken Henderson, who died a year ago while snowmobiling on Rangeley Lake.

“He was my life,” she said.

Henderson, 40, of China, and his cousin, Glenn Henderson, 43, of Sabattus, were snowmobiling on Dec. 30, 2012, with John Spencer, 41, of Litchfield. They all went into the lake and were not found until May.

That same night, Dawn Newell, 45, of Yarmouth, and her 16-year-old son were snowmobiling on the lake and her snowmobile plunged into the water. The teenager jumped from his snowmobile onto solid ice and survived. She did not and her body was recovered the next day.

With snowmobile season in full swing, the Maine Warden Service and Maine Snowmobile Association are ramping up efforts to promote snowmobile safety awareness.

Don’t speed, check with people who know the area before going out on your snowmobile, let people know where you are going and do not drink and drive a snowmobile, they say.


But while Thompson supports those awareness efforts, she says she wants people to know that accidents can happen, even with the most experienced and rule-abiding snowmobilers.

Her son and nephew, for instance, did not die as a result of drinking, she said.

“It was a very tragic accident, due to the fact that they couldn’t see in the blinding snowstorm,” she said. “They didn’t just drive into open water. These guys knew what they were doing. It’s a big difference. Kenny and Glenn were avid outdoors men. They knew the outdoors. They worked outdoors. Glenn was a crane operator. Kenny was a foreman ironworker. They hunted. They fished. They just loved the outdoors. They snowmobiled.”

Cpl. John MacDonald of the warden service confirmed Friday that alcohol was not a factor in the Rangeley snowmobile deaths.

“The most obvious contributing factor was extremely poor weather conditions,” MacDonald said.

Thompson said a motorcycle remembrance ride, organized by Paul Hodgetts and Scott Southerland and launched Sept. 1, inspired her and her family to create their own special memorial.


Thompson, Carolyn Henderson and Ken’s father, also Ken Henderson, of Augusta, donated a granite bench in memory of those lost in the snowmobile accidents Dec. 30, 2012 – as well as to those who worked tirelessly to find them. The bench was placed in the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce park, near the lake, and dedicated Sept. 1. Thompson said she and others were touched that Kate Braestrup, chaplain of the warden service, and Warden Lt. Kevin Adam attended.

Thompson says the message on the back of the bench says it all and is as strong a message as it was a year ago:

“Many, many thanks to the Maine Warden Service, The Rangeley Community, and to all for your support and dedication.”

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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