Angela Bussell (center) and Kimberly Pushard with Game Warden Brad Richard, who found the pair’s vehicle Sunday afternoon while searching the area on snowmobile. Photo contributed by Maine Warden Service

Game Warden Brad Richard felt a pit in his stomach Sunday afternoon as he shut off his snowmobile and trudged toward the red Jeep that law enforcement had sought for five days, scouring hundreds of miles trails and roads.

Snow from Thursday night’s storm sat undisturbed on the vehicle’s roof, and Richard noted the absence of nearby shoeprints. The temperature had dropped to 15 degrees below zero Saturday night. If two missing Midcoast residents, Kimberly Pushard, 51, and Angela Bussell, 50, were still here, stuck half a mile off a remote snowmobile trail near Nicatous Lake in Hancock County, they were likely in bad shape.

Kimberly Pushard’s Jeep Compass ran out of gas on this unplowed road in T40 MD near Nicatous Lake in Hancock County. The women spent Saturday night in the car with no heat and outside temperatures of approximately minus 15 degrees. Photo contributed by Maine Warden Service

But when he knocked, the Jeep’s door swung open and there was the pair of longtime friends — cold and hungry but, miraculously, alive and well after their planned trip to the Maine Mall had gone awry and left them stranded in the snow for four days.

“I need to go and make contact with some people so that I can help get you out of here,” Richard told them after giving them the few snacks he had on hand.

“Well,” Pushard responded with a calmness that made Richard question whether she understood the danger she was in, “would you hurry up?”

Richard said the women were out of food when he found them, though it wasn’t clear how much they had to begin with. They only had half a bottle of Mountain Dew, but it was frozen solid.


Family members report Pushard and Bussell have been safely recovering since Sunday afternoon, when Richard and other members of the Maine Warden Service conducted a rescue as improbable as the pair’s initial disappearance.

The women, who both have intellectual disabilities, planned to go bowling at the Maine Mall Tuesday afternoon. But the pair accidentally drove to Massachusetts after becoming disoriented on the interstate, then repeatedly lost their bearings as they tried to get home despite receiving directions from family members and multiple police officers. At some point, their cellphones died, and family members filed a missing persons report with Topsham police at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Pushard’s older sister, Rhonda Cromwell of Westport Island, told the Portland Press Herald Sunday that Kimberly, who lives in Wiscasset with her boyfriend, had never driven beyond the Bath, Topsham and Brunswick area, although she has been driving for about 30 years.

Because Pushard’s cellphone last pinged just after midnight Wednesday near Candia and Raymond, New Hampshire, investigators focused the first day’s search on that area. Only Wednesday evening did they learn that by 10 a.m. that morning the women were actually some 300 miles away. They had stopped to get gas in Springfield, Maine, and then headed west on Route 6 and still looking for directions home.

More tips soon came in placing Pushard’s red Jeep near Lincoln Wednesday morning, including surveillance footage showing the vehicle traveling south on Route 155 toward Enfield shortly after 10:30 a.m. The Warden Service and the Forest Service began an aerial search of the area, but as the days ticked by, police struggled to find any new leads.

When he spoke to the women, Richard learned why.


Sometime on Wednesday, Pushard and Bussell had turned off the Morrison Ridge Road onto a remote snowmobile trail while traveling southeast from Burlington. After about 10 miles, they veered off that path and rolled half a mile into the woods before the car got stuck in the snow.

By Saturday morning, the vehicle was out of gas, which meant the pair no longer had heat. Though they may not have realized it, that put them in extreme danger and made finding them on Sunday absolutely essential, Lt. Dan Menard of the Warden Service said.

“They only saw that one day in those extremely cold temperatures,” he said. “Had they run out of gas the first day it might have been a different story.”

Richard said it appeared the women hadn’t left the car much, which likely saved their lives.

If they had decided to walk for help, it would have been miles before they made it to a road with any sort of traffic and they probably would have frozen to death, he said.

Maine Game Warden Brad Richard, who found the two women alive in their vehicle on an unplowed road in T40 MD near Nicatous Lake. Photo contributed by Maine Warden Service

Finding the vehicle took both methodical searching and luck. The department had assigned Richard and other wardens to specific areas and sent them off in trucks and snowmobiles with a clear directive: Check every possible road and trail.


The path where Pushard and Bussell were stranded was not on Richard’s list.

He said it was dumb luck — or perhaps something more — that led him to the snowmobile trail where he noticed a mysterious pair of tire tracks.

“Those things don’t always happen by chance,” he said. “I think it kind of was meant to be.”

Patsy Pushard, who said she spent five days waiting by the phone for any news of her daughter, agreed the rescue was divine.

Bussell was treated for frostbite at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln before being discharged Sunday evening, Patsy Pushard said. Kimberly, who has some bruises and muscle pulls, spent the night at the hospital, watching Lifetime movies and talking to family members, but was in good shape and high spirits.

“She just talked and talked,” Patsy Pushard said. “She sounded happy, just like the usual Kimmy.”

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