The number of snowmobile deaths this season has climbed to 20, almost double the number of deaths for the same time a year ago. The figure is disappointing for the OPP who say it’s driver disregard for safety that’s driving the number up in many cases at an alarming rate. Police say going too fast where the driver lost control of the sled is behind nine of the 20 deaths. In some instances excessive speed led to crashing into a tree or rock or even another snowmobile. Police say one sled crashing into another is not an accident’ it’s preventable. Police also say snowmobilers need to remember the machines they operate can hit very high speeds so they need to drive with care and control of their vehicle.
Over and over again police have warned outdoor enthusiasts to watch for lake ice. But for some, those warnings have fallen on deaf ears because three snowmobilers hit open water and another crashed through the ice. The number of lake ice incidents could climb to five because just this past Sunday a snowmobiler went through the ice on a river in Sault Ste. Marie. As of Tuesday the OPP Underwater Search and Rescue Unit was still searching for the person in deteriorating ice conditions because of the recent warm spell. Police say the age group of the victims ranges from young to old. Fifteen of the 20 deaths were men in their 50s and 60s prompting the OPP to say even people without considerable snowmobile experience are vulnerable to risks associated with snowmobiling. Although the mercury will drop again below zero, police are urging snowmobilers to avoid lakes and rivers because in many parts of Ontario the ice is deteriorating and you don’t want to get caught going over thin ice.