PORTSMOUTH — Just two days after announcing he would retire as president and CEO of Northeast Credit Union, Peter Kavalauskas was killed in a weekend snowmobile crash.
"It's certainly a shock for the credit union," Amy Cairy, NECU's marketing communications manager, said Sunday.
According to New Hampshire Fish and Game officials, Kavalauskas, 62, of Dover, was riding with his son and a friend across Millen Pond in Washington when he lost control of his sled and crashed into the shoreline around 1 a.m. Saturday. Speed was likely a contributing factor, authorities said.
On Thursday, Kavalauskas and NECU had announced that he was retiring as president and chief executive officer after 35 years of service to the Portsmouth-based business. According to a statement from NECU, Kavalauskas joined the credit union in 1978 as assistant general manager. He was promoted to general manager in 1984 and became president and CEO in 1985.
Kavalauskas, who had said he would remain in his position until a successor was found, is survived by his wife, Nancy, their three children and five grandchildren.
Apart from its headquarters in Portsmouth, NECU has branch locations in Berlin, Concord, Conway, Dover, Exeter, Gorham, Lebanon, Lee, Manchester, Merrimack, Northwood, Plymouth, Rochester and also at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Five separate snowmobile crashes were reported on Saturday in northern New Hampshire, according to Fish and Game officials.
At 9:27 a.m. Saturday, Marc Perreault, 62, of Milton was riding on Corridor 128 in Clarksville when he missed a corner and crashed into Bishop Brook. Perreault was treated for hypothermia.
At 10:39 a.m., Cydney Johnson, 42, of Alton hit a tree while riding on Hilltop Trail in Whitefield. She was transported to Weeks Hospital in Lancaster, and medflighted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital with serious injuries. Sunday night, a spokesman said the hospital had no record of her being a patient.
Also Saturday, Karen Lane, 44, of Merrimack hit a tree in Pittsburg, and was transported to the Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, where she was treated for serious injuries. She was in stable condition Sunday night.
Andrew Zola, 21, of Mansfield, Mass., was uninjured after hitting a tree on Jefferson Notch Road, Corridor 11, in Thomson and Meserves Saturday about 2 p.m.
William Page, 64 of Charlestown, rolled a snowmobile in Berlin and hit a tree at 3:15 p.m. He was transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital with unspecified injuries. On Sunday, William Gelormini, 77, of Burlington, Mass., suffered a leg injury when the snow machine he was operating collided with a tree in Dorchester around 3 p.m.
Kavalauskas is the third snowmobiler to die in New Hampshire this winter, and the second to die while crossing a body of water.
On Feb. 1, Lucie Gagnon, 58, of Berlin, was killed when she struck a tree as she was riding over Success Pond in Success township. Four days earlier, Pauline Robinson, 47, of Hudson, was seriously injured and later died after her snow machine hit an icy patch on a trail in Pittsburg and then collided with a tree.
Capt. John Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department told the Union Leader the state averages about five snowmobile fatalities a year. Wimsatt coordinates the state's Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle Program with the NH Bureau of Trails, which administers multiple-use trails on state, federal and private lands.
He said that Fish and Game, which focuses primarily on speeding, reckless operation and noise complaints, has observed a continued decline in the number of arrests of snowmobilers for operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
During an enforcement effort in Pittsburg over the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 "Reciprocal Snowmobile Weekend" for snowmobilers from New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, Wimsatt said officers made contact with thousands of snowmobilers, but made just three arrests.
The low number of violations, he said, is testimony to the fact that the overwhelming majority of riders are obeying the laws and are riding responsibly.