‘Random trip’ ends up saving strangers life in the North Maine Woods

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 9:46 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -A random trip to Togue Pond ends up saving the life of an Ashland man who became stranded on a remote road. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard spoke with the person who many are calling a hero.

“I decided, well, I’m going to take a ride out there, because we always used to take a ride out there, you know just kind of thinking about him”

Gary Orr of Presque Isle says on May 6th, he decided to take a drive down the desolate roads surrounding Togue Pond, around 16 miles due south of St. Francis. A trip he’d often take with his friend Greg McLaughlin, who passed away recently. Orr was out reminiscing on his friendship when something caught his eye.

“I seen this tarp up there and it was kind of waving a bit and I thought “Well it’s a windy day, no big deal”, so I drove up by up in there and pretty soon I saw this hand stick out and this guy yells “Help Me, Help Me, Help Me!”

Orr says the man, identified by Maine Game Wardens as Carl Burke of Ashland, asked him for some water, and said he couldn’t walk. Burke’s truck originally became stranded on that same road, anywhere between 4 to 7 days before Orr found him.

“I had to go up to Allagash to get some help, because it was 32 miles to Ashland and 14 miles to the Allagash. Apparently he made it about 500 yards and he collapsed he couldn’t go any further.”

Adrian Marquis , a Game Warden with the Maine Warden Service says “This time of year, there are some woods roads that are well travelled and some that aren’t and the one he was on was not”

Marquis says due to the condition of the road, they had to stage an ambulance 8 miles from where Burke was.

“We were able to get him out of the woods where some other paramedics were waiting and they successfully got him to Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent”

Marquis says Burke may not have survived much longer had Orr not stumbled upon him. Burkes status remains unknown at this time.

“The only water he had to drink really was a had a towel that was soaked with rainwater and he would drink out of that”

Orr says, he’s thankful he happened to be in the right place, at the right time, or else this story may have had a very different ending.

“I wasn’t going to go up the road but for some reason, I did, and we went up there and there he was, it was just amazing, it really was”

But if you do venture off into the North Maine Woods, Marquis says you should let someone know where you’re going, or take a buddy if you can, and have some basic supplies just in case you get stuck.

“If you’re going to take off into the woods alone, make sure you’re on a well traveled road because most likely you’ve got enough to get by for a couple days but not to survive for a week or more”

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8