Maine game wardens are investigating whether the snowmobiling death of a Gray man Monday was the result of high speed or a lack of familiarity with the trail, although the victim’s mother said the man knew the area’s trails well and was going at a “moderate” speed.

Angus McDuffie, 44, died at the scene of a crash Monday morning between Falmouth Road and Route 302 in Windham. He was riding with his son, Owen, 13, a friend of Owen’s and the friend’s father, said Christine McDuffie, Angus McDuffie’s mother.

Christine McDuffie said her son was an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman who co-owned Pine State Elevator Co. with his brother, Travis McDuffie. He went out on his snowmobile often and was leading the group of four on the trail where the crash occurred, alongside some power lines between Falmouth Road and Route 302.

Christine McDuffie said her son originally attended college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute but found north-central Massachusetts “too urban” for his tastes.

He soon transferred to the University of Maine in Orono, she said.

“On the first weekend there, he got lost in the woods and he was thrilled,” she said.

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Angus McDuffie got his engineering degree from the university, his mother said, and eventually took over the elevator firm that was started by his grandfather. But he still kept up with his love of the outdoors, spending a lot of time in outdoor activities with his son and a daughter, who is 11, Christine McDuffie said.

He also maintained ties over the years with fellow members of the university’s “Woodsmen’s Team,” who took part in lumberjack skills competition, she said.

The initial reports from Monday’s crash indicate McDuffie was thrown from his snowmobile while trying to cross a small brook, said Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service. Christine McDuffie said it appeared her son, who was wearing a helmet, hit a rock that was hidden under the snow as he rode up the side of the bank alongside the brook and the sudden stop caused him to be thrown from the machine.

MacDonald said McDuffie’s three riding companions tried to revive him, but they were unsuccessful.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the state medical examiner’s office said the cause of his death was blunt force trauma to the head and neck. The manner of his death was ruled accidental.

McDuffie’s death was the first on a snowmobile of this winter season in Maine. State data for the past six years show that roughly 180 to 230 snowmobile crashes occur each year, and MacDonald said the range in the number of accidents often reflects the variability of the seasons. Winters with relatively little snowfall naturally lead to fewer crashes because the season is shorter and fewer riders go out.

Snowmobile fatalities in recent years range from a low of two in 2013 to a high of 10 in 2012. In 2016, five people died in snowmobile crashes, according to figures provided by the warden service.

 


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