There have been four deaths of snowmobilers in less than a week, bringing to 16 the number of rider deaths for the season in Wisconsin. In Bayfield County on Sunday, a 26 year-old Indiana man lost control of his machine on a corner and crashed. The Department of Natural Resources said alcohol and speed are both possible factors – as they have been in the majority of snowmobiling deaths this year. There were 10 deaths at this point in season last year – attributed largely to a lack of snow. Wisconsin’s five year average is 19 snowmobile deaths in a season.
Sunday’s death of the rider in Bayfield County followed a fatal accident involving a young rider on Friday. The Door County Sheriff’s office said a 13 year-old boy died in a snowmobile accident in Brussels. The boy was the driver and only occupant of the snowmobile, driving east on a designated snowmobile trail, when he stopped before crossing a county road. He attempted to cross the roadway, and was struck by a northbound truck.
Also last week, two Madeline Island men who strayed off a marked ice road across Lake Superior after leaving Bayfield Wednesday night died when the snowmobile they were ridng on went through the ice of Lake Superior. Their bodies were recovered Thursday. Alcohol was a factor in that incident as well.
DNR Snowmobile and ATV Safety Administrator Gary Eddy said that for several years the agency conducted special snowmobile enforcement that focused on OWI and speeding in problem areas. But budget constraints stopped the practice this riding season.