The last action of Carmel Town Manager Kevin Howell was saving his son.

Howell drowned Friday after he and his 4-year-old son fell through the ice at Etna Pond in the Penobscot County town. Before he succumbed to the icy waters, Howell was able to lift his son on the ice.

Kevin Howell, 51, the town manager for the Penobscot County town of Carmel, drowned Friday when he and his young son fell through the ice. The child survived. Photo courtesy of the Howell family

The small town is grieving, said Daniel Frye, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, on Saturday. “Kevin was a wonderful, wonderful guy.”

Frye worked closely with Howell, who he said “really believed in community. That’s why he was such a perfect person for that town manager role. He always wanted to make the town better. He was a stand out guy.”

About 6:30 a.m. Friday, Howell and his son were taking a walk and were crossing a portion of Etna Pond when they broke through the ice, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Howell got the boy out of the water and told him to get his mother. They were about a third of a mile from their home. Katie Howell called 911 and ran to help her husband with an anchor and rope, but she ended up falling through the ice.


Penobscot County sheriff’s detective Jordan Norton was in the area and heard the 911 call. Norton immediately responded and saw Katie in the water. He began to cross the treacherous ice, holding onto the rope. He was able to pull her out of the ice and get her to shore, according to the sheriff’s office. The detective looked for Howell but could not find him.

While Norton got Katie and her son back home, rescuers with the Maine Warden Service and Carmel Fire Department arrived. Six warden service divers and one State Police diver joined the effort, and Howell’s body was recovered at about 2 p.m.

Howell, 51, held the position of town manager for about eight years, Frye said. He loved being a father, never passing up a chance to show off photos of his son. “He was so proud of Sawyer,” Frye said.

As town manager, Howell never stopped working to make things better. He helped create a town landing. He saw that a new playground was built. He revitalized Carmel Days, an annual fall community celebration.

“When he took it over, it was on the outs. He came in and brought the community together. Every year, it got bigger and better, in large part to Kevin’s work,” Frye said. “He was always working on the next project. His death is a big loss for the town.”

Carmel is about 15 miles from Bangor with a population of 2,867, according to the 2020 census.


Kevin Howell pictured with his wife, Katie, and their 4-year-old son Sawyer. Howell drowned while trying to save his son after they fell through the ice at Etna Pond on Friday. His son survived.  Contributed photo

Howell and his wife moved to Carmel in 2014, according to the town’s website, and have one son. Howell was known for woodworking, building cedar log furniture and expanding his family hobby farm. He enjoyed skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ATV trail riding with his family. They also liked boating, fishing and hiking. Howell was also an avid cook and would “whip up meals for family and friends,” the website said.

Howell was a member and current vice president of Golden Harvest Grange No. 33, a lifetime member of the Carmel Historical Society and a member of the Carmel Snowmobile Club.

Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton was a friend. Morton said Saturday that Howell’s dedication to his family and community was unmatched. “Every time I spoke with him, he shared stories of his son and how quick he learned so many things.”

Ethan Dysart, a friend and neighbor, described Howell as an industrious person, someone who not only took care of his family but also the entire community.

“He was the best fit, honestly, for a town manager,” Dysart said. “He always dropped everything he had going to make sure things were taken care of for the town. He was always coming up with new ideas for the new recreation center. He’d do a town parade every year that he put a lot of work into for Carmel Days. He really brought the community together.”

In addition to running a cedar furniture business and serving as town manager, Howell ran a nearby farm with his wife. “It’s a beautiful little farm,” Dysart said.

“They’re great people to be around. My daughter and his son are a year apart, so we’d go over all the time. They would play and have a good time,” he said. “He’s going to be really missed around here. It won’t be the same without him.”

On Monday night, Carmel selectmen will meet to figure out next steps for filling Howell’s position, Frye said. “Kevin was not only our town manager, he was our tax collector, our road commissioner. He wore several hats.”

The selectmen issued a statement Saturday saying they are filled with profound sorrow, and their thoughts and condolences are with the family. They called Howell’s contributions to Carmel “truly remarkable. … He was known for his unwavering commitment and tireless efforts to make our community the best it could be.”

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