Five killed in Wisconsin snowmobile accidents over the weekend
WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WLUK) — It is a sobering reality of how dangerous riding can be.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says five people died in a snowmobile crash on Friday and Saturday - just halfway through the snowmobile season.
A report compiled by the DNR shows 10 snowmobile fatalities have already occurred so far this year, and half happened just this past weekend.
Last year, there were 19 deaths from snowmobile crashes, 12 of which involved alcohol.
One of the most recent fatal crashes happened Saturday out on Lake Winnebago in Calumet County.
A snowmobile landed on top of its operator after the operator hit a snow bank or ice crack.
“We have ice shoves, we have ice cracks and if you hit those going at a high rate of speed, you’re going to launch your sled, you’re going to get airborne, and that’s going to cause problems when you land,” said Lt. Chris Shea of the DNR.
Speed is considered a possible factor.
“I’m not really concerned the way I’m handling my machine,” said Paul Adamski, a snowmobiler from Door County. “I’m really concerned about the other person that’s coming at me at 70 or 80 mph.”
Alcohol may be a factor as well.
“There’s just way too much alcohol involved in the snowmobile business, and recreational business, and that concerns me quite a bit,” Adamski said.
DNR officials said speed and alcohol are, in fact, two of the main contributing factors in snowmobile crashes and deaths.
“If you can practice a zero tolerance or zero alcohol, it definitely decreases the likelihood of accidents occurring.”
The DNR also urges snowmobilers to stay within their abilities, be familiar with trails and trail conditions and to wear a helmet.
Snowmobile safety instructors also say operators should avoid riding at night when possible and, even if it isn't required, experts recommend taking a safety class.