John Neuts, an accomplished pilot and boatsman who also had a passion for racing snowmobiles, died Saturday from injuries he sustained in an ATV accident in Greenville. He was 29.

Neuts was remembered by family on Monday as a hard worker and dedicated family man, whose life was measured by the miles he rode and lives he touched along the way.

John Neuts and his dog, Casco. Courtesy of his wife, Elena

Neuts had a life-long passion for motors and all things fast. As an infant, he could only sleep by going for car rides. As a young boy, he would sit on his father’s lap on the riding lawnmower. By 8 years old, he was operating his father’s backhoe.

“He was always a motor head,” said his father, Donald Neuts. “He loved anything that had four wheels. He was always on a snowmobile, or an ATV or a boat. We had a place on Moosehead Lake. He used to run machines until he ran out of gas. He would go back and forth and back and forth all day long.”

Neuts graduated from Falmouth High School. He was a competitive athlete, although school sports weren’t his thing.

“He would say to me, ‘Just put me on a snowmobile circuit so I can go racing. Take me motorbike racing,’” his father recalled. “I said ‘no, no, no …’ He spent a lot of time doing what he loved to do. He wanted to be at Moosehead 24/7.”

His mother, Joanie Neuts, agreed that his passion was snowmobiling.

“In the summer, he would stand outside. It was 80 degrees out and he would say, ‘I can’t wait for it to snow,’” she recalled.

His passion led him to compete at the United States Cross Country Snowmobile Racing series, an event that attracted professional and amateur riders to Greenville. Neuts was about 15 when he first competed and won the amateur title. For the next four years or so, Neuts placed first in both the amateur and national races.

For Neuts, snowmobiling was his therapy. His family said he loved the adrenaline rush and being outdoors.

“I’m loving it,” said Neuts in a 2011 Bangor Daily News story after winning the Maine Amateur title. He clocked in four laps at 25 minutes, 49.267 seconds. “The track’s better (than last year). There’s more holes, because you’re running the shore. But it puts more of a challenge on us.”

Neuts was remembered this week as an honest, determined and hard-working guy, who always made time to help others. He had natural skills for operating excavating equipment and held various positions at construction firms throughout New England.

A master boater, Neuts was often asked to haul, launch and captain boating trips. He was also a skilled pilot, able to fly many types of aircraft. A couple of months ago, Neuts started his own excavation company, Riverside Management. His father said he lined up plenty of work this winter for plowing and snow removal.

“He’s been straight-out busy,” his father said. “He knew everyone in the business. He was on track to establish a successful business.”

Neuts lived in Cumberland Foreside with his wife, Elena, and his dog, Casco. He and Casco were inseparable.

Elena Neuts, who is about six months pregnant with their son, on Tuesday recalled the moment she knew Neuts was her soulmate. She said he grabbed her hand and pulled her out on the dance floor at a bar in Standish, where “Motor Booty Affair” was playing.

“In that moment … I don’t know, it just all clicked,” his wife said. “I just felt like he was my person. It felt great. He loved to dance. He was so good at it. Dancing made him happy. We bonded right there in that moment. Ever since that day, we were inseparable.”

Neuts and his wife moved in together at the start of their five-year relationship. They were married July 18, 2018. She said he was excited to be a father. She said they decided to name their son Easton John.

“He was so excited,” she said. “The first appointment we went to, John was at a loss for words. He couldn’t believe it. He was so happy. When we found out it was a boy, it was the topping to it all … knowing there could be a mini John. He was really looking forward to this baby and teaching him all the things he grew up learning and doing.”

Neuts was happiest spending time with family and friends at camp on Moosehead Lake. His mother broke down in tears recalling Neuts’ love for family. She said he was a true gentleman.

“He was the best son anybody could ever ask for,” his mother said. “He was my hero. He was an old soul. He was always there for me or anybody. He had an oversized heart.”

His sister, Rebecca DeCosta, said he was always there for her, no matter what.

“He would drop everything to help me,” DeCosta said. “He was the best brother I could have ever asked for.”

On Friday, Neuts and a friend left for Greenville to haul his father’s boat home. They were riding ATVs when he lost control and the four-wheeler rolled over. His father said despite all the experience he had, he somehow made a mistake. Neuts had tried to secure his seat belt, but it didn’t work. He went anyway.

“He lived in miles, not years,” his father said. “He was a hero to all of us. The world is a worse place without him.”

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