BANGOR, Maine — Local track officials recalled a longtime employee who was killed Wednesday in an accident at Bangor Raceway as a respected member of the harness racing community who served as a father figure to younger workers.
Edwin “Ed” Reynolds, 64, of Machias died after a starting gate vehicle struck him while he was on the track, Bangor police Sgt. Tim Cotton confirmed in a news release Thursday morning.
Reynolds did groundskeeping, managed the stables and maintained the grandstands, according to raceaway officials. He was active in the racing community, owning and breeding horses in the past as well.
Fred Nichols, race secretary at Bangor Raceway, hired Reynolds 21 years ago to work as an assistant to the former barn manager. When that manager retired a couple of years later, Reynolds took over.
“He had a real interest in being here,” Nichols said, calling Reynolds a jack of all trades around the track. “He always knew what to do around the barn.
“He’s somebody that’s irreplaceable,” Nichols added.
Nichols and Jose Flores, general manager of Hollywood Casino, which owns the track, said during interviews Thursday that employees were hit hard by Reynolds’ death. They also sent condolences to Reynolds’ family.
Reynolds was a Machias resident but rented a camp in the Bangor area and lived in a camper in Bangor during racing season.
Flores called Reynolds the “backbone of Bangor raceway.”
“He enjoyed everything,” Flores said. “He enjoyed the day. He enjoyed the people that surrounded him. He enjoyed his environment. I can’t recall seeing him down about anything. That’s contagious to be around.”
Nichols said track employees were struggling with the loss. After 20 years, Reynolds was well liked and respected.
“One of them said it was like losing a father,” Nichols said, choking back tears. “His personality was just top-drawer.”
An internal investigation has been launched, and Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway officials are cooperating with Bangor police and fire personnel and Maine State Police, according to company spokesman Dan Cashman.
Cashman has said the company planned to bring in grief counselors to help employees.
Races at the Bangor track scheduled for Monday and Tuesday have been canceled and may be rescheduled at a later date, Cashman said. Flores said the next races at the track will be held in October.
Bangor police said they would release no further information Thursday about the incident.
The investigations by Bangor police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continue, and Flores said casino and track officials are cooperating.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.