NEWS: Maine town manager Kevin Howell dies rescuing 4-year-old son when both break through ice
A town manager drowned Friday — but not before rescuing his 4-year-old son after they both plunged through the ice of a Maine pond.
Kevin Howell, 51, and his son Sawyer were on an early morning walk across a portion of Etna Pond when the ice collapsed beneath their weight, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.
Howell heaved Sawyer out of the frigid waters, instructing him to run the 0.3 miles back to their Carmel house and get his mother.
The youngster heroically made the journey to his mother, who called 911 and rushed to help her husband, grabbing an anchor and rope on the way, police said.
After securing the rope to shore and racing across the ice to reach Howell, the wife then tragically broke through the ice herself and was unable to get out.
Fortunately, the Penobscot sheriff arrived shortly after and successfully rescued Howell’s wife by crawling across the ice and using the same rope she had fastened moments earlier.
Howell, however, had vanished beneath the surface.
His body was recovered by divers shortly before 2 p.m., just 20 minutes after they entered the water and nearly 8 hours after Howell broke through the ice.
At the time of his death, Howell was serving as the town manager for Carmel, a town nearly 100 miles northeast of Lewiston.
He had held the position since 2015 and was awarded several accolades for his work in town government, including the town Leadership award in 2020, according to Carmel’s website.
Several town employees changed their Facebook profile pictures to an image of the town’s emblem, along with a black ribbon to represent mourning, in the hours following the tragedy.
Howell also served as a member of Maine’s second EMS Blue Ribbon Commission.
“Mr. Howell was a visionary for his community’s development of a regional EMS system. We are very appreciative of his support for the Maine Bureau of EMS, the state of Maine and the kindness he showed his community and colleagues. Our deepest sympathies to his friends and his family,” Maine EMS said in a statement.
Etna Pond Etna Pond covers about 361 acres and has a depth of 12 feet and is a popular spot for ice fishing and skating.