A Harmony woman who lost her fiancé in a fatal crash Monday in Bingham is suffering a double loss this week, as one of the couple’s three dogs is still missing from the crash site.

Brenda Cote, 46, said by phone Friday afternoon that her fiancé, Michael Handy, also of Harmony, was killed Monday night in a head-on crash on U.S. Route 201 in Bingham. He had three dogs with him at the time of the crash, she said.

Michael Handy

Two of them survived the ordeal, she said, but a third dog, Tootie, was nowhere to be found.

“One got hurt, but he’s healing,” Cote said. “One of his legs was hurt and he lost some teeth.”

She said Tootie is a female peekapoo, a cross-breed between a Pekingese and a poodle, with “light blondish hair” and protruding bottom teeth, characteristic of that breed of dog. The dog is 13 or 14 years old.

Tootie was wearing a dog collar at the time of the accident. Friends have posted a photograph of the missing dog on Facebook, asking motorists, visitors and snowmobilers to keep an eye out for the pooch.


“She is probably really scared and is probably traumatized from the accident,” one person posted. “So if you find Tootie, please, please, be careful.”

Cote asked that anyone who has news about the dog call her at 683-2454 or 717-5624.

“It was his dog. They were our dogs, but originally it was his dog,” she said, noting that they were to be married in June. “Just the thought of losing them both, it breaks my heart.”

Handy, 46, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, reported about 8 p.m. Monday, 1.5 miles north of the state rest area on U.S. Route 201 in Bingham.

Sheriff’s deputies went there, as did Upper Kennebec Valley Ambulance and the Bingham Fire Department. Two vehicles were involved: a red, four-door, 2007 Toyota Camry and a silver, 4-door, 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.

Handy was driving the Toyota, Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said. The driver of the Volkswagen Jetta — Jocelyn Jones, 31, of Bingham — was trapped in the vehicle and had to be extricated by Bingham firefighters, Lancaster said.


Jones was taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan with injuries deemed not to be life-threatening.

Lancaster said the investigation revealed that it was a head-on crash in the center of the road. Neither driver was wearing a seat belt.

Lancaster said in an email Friday that the analysis of the scene and a full accident report probably will be complete in a week.

Also on Friday, Chief Deputy James Ross said he personally checked the wreckage of the car and did not find the dog.

“The deputies were told by family members the next day that a dog … was missing and possibly still in one of the vehicles,” Ross said Friday afternoon. “A check of the vehicle was made by the deputy and no sign of the dog was found. I also personally checked the vehicle and could find no sign of the dog.”

Investigators still do not know how the accident happened or why both vehicles were in the middle of the road when the accident happened.


A Harmony man was killed Monday night in a head-on crash in Bingham 1.5 miles north of the state rest area on U.S. Route 201. Michael Handy, 46, was pronounced dead at the scene. File photo courtesy of Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

“The accident reconstruction is ongoing and takes some time to complete,” Ross said. “We are also awaiting test results for submitted blood-alcohol submissions.”

Alcohol tests are routine in fatal accidents.

Cote said she would like to hear from anyone who might have seen the missing dog, even if they have bad news for her.

“Whether Tootie has passed or she’s alive, I want her home either way,” she said. “I want to be able to bury her.”


Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]



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