Earlier this winter, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reached out to snowmobilers to use caution when enjoying the trails this winter as there were an alarming number of fatalities already this season.

Sadly, accidents continue to happen. Last weekend, a head-on snowmobile crash in Wisconsin led to hospitalizations, and on Saturday, two more crashes were reported in Minnesota, resulting in serious injuries and one driver being pronounced dead at the scene.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office/Walker Minnesota Facebook page provided details on both accidents. The first accident was reported on Saturday, February 4 at 11:39 a.m. The Cass County  Sheriff's Office received a 911 call stating that there was a snowmobile crash resulting in injuries on the "Snowflea" Snowmobile Trail in Nisswa, Minnesota:

Deputies learned that an adult female, age 49 of Coon Rapids MN, was operating a 2020 Polaris Indy rental snowmobile with a juvenile male, age 15 of Coon Rapids MN, as rear passenger. The snowmobile left the trail on a curve and struck a tree causing the rider and passenger to be ejected from the machine. The juvenile male was transported via helicopter to a St. Cloud MN hospital with serious injuries, the female was transported to a Brainerd MN hospital. Both were wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

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Angela Waye
Angela Waye

Later the same day, a separate crash led to a fatality. On Saturday, February 4 at 4:55 p.m., the Cass County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call reporting a snowmobile crash with serious injury on 72nd St. SW in Staples, Minnesota.

Deputies and responders arrived on scene and found family and bystanders preforming CPR on an adult male victim. Medical aid was immediately continued by Deputies and EMS Personnel. The male was pronounced deceased on scene. The investigation indicated that a family was returning to their residence from a snowmobile trip when the track on the victim’s snowmobile became dislodged from the 2007 Yamaha snowmobile, causing the machine to crash and eject the operator, a male age 65 of Staples MN. The operator was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Authorities added that an autopsy is scheduled with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office and the incident remains under investigation.

Even though accidents happen, it's worth noting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a page dedicated to snowmobile safety tips.

Some key things to remember each snowmobiling season include:

  • Stay on marked trails. Minnesota’s snowmobile clubs work hard to maintain good riding conditions on the state’s trails. Riders who stay on groomed trails are less likely to strike an obstacle or trespass onto private property. (Civil penalties for snowmobile trespass have doubled this year.) Riders can check trail conditions on the DNR website before heading out.
  • Don’t ride impaired. Drinking and riding is a primary cause of crashes and plays a role in about 60% of those that are fatal.
    Watch your speed and stay to the right. Going too fast is another main cause of crashes. Many serious and fatal crashes occur when a speeding snowmobiler loses control or strikes an object. When meeting another snowmobile, always slow down and stay to the right.
  • Be careful on the ice. In recent years, nearly every through-the-ice fatality has involved people who were riding a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle when they fell through. There must be at least 5 to 7 inches of new, clear ice to support the weight of a snowmobile and rider. Check the ice thickness as you go.
  • Take a snowmobile safety course. It’s required of anyone born after 1976 and recommended for everyone. People with snowmobile safety certification are less likely to be involved in serious or fatal crashes.

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