Ian Carter was driving home after his first day of work for AD&W Architectural Doors & Windows in Westbrook on Dec. 28 when his car crashed down a steep embankment in the median of Interstate 295 in Gardiner. The wrecked Honda Civic and Carter’s body weren’t found for a week.

His mother, Cynthia Carter, said Tuesday that Ian had recently earned his degree in architectural and engineering design at Southern Maine Community College and was excited about his new job.

“He was just a wonderful person,” Cynthia Carter said.

State Police Trooper Greg Stevens said Tuesday that he continues to piece together the last hours of Carter’s life to learn when the 27-year-old man’s car crashed. The crash, which likely occurred sometime Dec. 28, went unreported until Jan. 2 when a passing motorist noticed a reflection in the woods. Stevens said the car was hidden from view by trees and snow.

Stevens said Carter’s family assumed he was staying with friends in the Portland area and did not report him missing.

“He was 27,” Stevens said. “He did his own thing. They knew bad weather was coming so they figured he stayed down there.”

Carter’s obituary says he is the second son of Colon and Cynthia Carter to die. Carter was predeceased by his brother Brian.

Ian Carter, according to his obituary, moved from southern Maine to Gardiner with his family when he was in eighth grade. He graduated from Gardiner Area High School in 2006.

Carter played saxophone in the band and jazz band, and sang in the chorus, and appeared in several musicals and the school’s annual Pizazz Concert, according to the obituary. He was accepted at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.

“He was very proud of this acceptance,” the obituary said, “although cost kept him from that dream.”

Carter was a bicycle enthusiast. His Facebook page includes numerous pictures of bicycles and reports of rides of 80 and 100 miles or more. Carter rode in and volunteered as a mechanic for the Trek Across Maine for several years.

“Ian was kind, soft-spoken and a gentle soul,” his obituary said. “He didn’t want for material things and was happiest when he could be out riding on one of his various bicycles.”

Carter loved his family and friends and enjoyed spending time fishing, camping and hiking, according to the obituary.

Carter’s funeral is set for 1 p.m. Friday at Staples Funeral Home in Brunswick.

“Please come as you are,” the obituary urges. “Ian would prefer it that way.”

Stevens, the investigator, said there were no skid marks or other visible signs of a crash on the roadway.

“How many people passed by there since Tuesday, or Monday night, and nobody saw it,” Stevens said. “Where it was sitting it was camouflaged in there. We just happened to be lucky enough to have someone spot it. If it had been summer we probably wouldn’t have seen it.”

Carter was apparently driving north when his car went off the road and into the median, where it became airborne. The car hit a tree 25 feet off the ground before descending a steep embankment. A driver in the southbound lane on Saturday saw a reflection from the car coming from the woods.

Stevens said there is nothing in the investigation thus far that indicates Carter was operating negligently.

“There’s no criminal aspect,” he said. “A number of things could have happened. We just don’t know. It’s very tragic.”