The couple who died in a fiery crash on Interstate 95 in Waterville on Wednesday were a husband and wife from Sanford who were both retired public servants.

Susan Pope, 63, was a retired prosecutor with the York County District Attorney’s Office who had fought brain cancer for two years. Her husband, Gary Capehart, 71, was a well-known retired schoolteacher who had run for political office in the Bangor area. Capehart also had recently been diagnosed with cancer, according to the couple’s pastor, Stan Griffin, of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Exeter.

Griffin posted about their deaths on the church’s Facebook page on Thursday, saying he was close friends with the couple.

“They were dear friends and I loved them very much,” Griffin said in a brief telephone interview. “They were two folks who were a tremendous encouragement to me.”

The couple lived together in Sanford, but were traveling north on I-95 when Capehart lost control of his pickup truck in a snowstorm Wednesday morning. The vehicle went over the interstate guardrail, struck Kennedy Memorial Drive, and then overturned again beyond a second guardrail, Maine State Police said.

Both had adult children.


Capehart taught in the Bangor School Department for decades. He was an English teacher at James F. Doughty School for a period and was the track coach at Bangor High School. He ran for state representative in 2016 and 2018 as a Republican, losing both races.

Capehart had recently been diagnosed with some form of cancer, and the couple were in the process of speaking to doctors and surgeons about his treatment options, said Griffin, their pastor.

Pope had been responding well to treatments for her cancer, according to a profile by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where Pope was receiving treatments for glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer.

Pope’s treatments were extensive and invasive. She underwent four brain surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and had been placed into multiple clinical trials. Through her treatment, she remained committed to living a full, active life unbound by the prognosis of her disease.

She had grandchildren with whom she tried to spend as much time as possible.

“You want to turn the clock back to the time before you got that diagnosis, but you can’t,” Pope said in the Dana-Farber profile published in August. “I realized that none of us are promised any time on earth, so I stopped worrying about tomorrow. I let tomorrow take care of itself and live today, as best I can.”


Pope also found solace in her deep faith. She and Capehart were saved and baptized at Griffin’s church.

York County District Attorney Kathy Slattery said Pope retired in February as an assistant district attorney, just as the global pandemic was ramping up. The office could not hold a send-off for her, Slattery said. But she remembered Pope’s smile, energy and work ethic most of all.

Although Pope often handled run-of-the-mill criminal cases out of the York and Springvale District Courts, Slattery relied on her for more complex assignments, like appellate work and jury trials because of her experience and intellect.

“She brought so much energy to what she did, what she could accomplish in a day would take people a longer period of time,” Slattery said. “She was just so positive and energetic. I picture her smile more than anything else.”

Even after Pope’s diagnosis and the difficult treatment and surgeries that followed, Slattery said she would always return, ready to take up where she left off.

“Very little knocked her down for long,” Slattery said.

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