Morning Read: Sled deaths plague region’s snowmobile industry

The Watertown Daily Times is reporting that despite this winter’s generally crummy snow conditions, snowmobiling deaths have already matched last year’s total.

Deputy Michael K. Leviker, parks and recreation officer at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, said the number of fatalities is a bit surprising, considering the relatively low volume of snowmobile traffic and overall number of accidents this season.

Two sledders have died so far in Lewis County and a third in Jefferson County.  According to the Plattsburgh Press Republican, at least one other sledder has died this season in Franklin County.

The Glens Falls Post Star also reported this week that three men lost their sleds into the water of Lake George after driving onto slushy ice last weekend.

Lee Pike, Douglas Smith and Michael Smith were transported to shore by North Queensbury and Horicon Fire Department air boats. The men were treated and released at the scene by Lake George and North Queensbury EMS.

So what do you think?  Is this a sport with a safety problem?  Are riders receiving adequate training, and enough information about the risks associated with sledding?

Or is this an acceptable by-product of a really fun activity that’s also a mainstay of the North Country economy?

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8 Comments on “Morning Read: Sled deaths plague region’s snowmobile industry”

  1. tootightmike says:

    The risk, the power, the speed, are the things that make this a fun sport. The beauty of the outdoors is a factor too, but it’s a tad hard to see at that speed, and with a full helmet. The snowmobiler enjoys the same rush as one driving his car fast, but I think, puts fewer others at risk. It’s great Darwinian fun…go for it.

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  2. Mervel says:

    I think you have to look at these accidents on the individual merits. Snowmobile’s are not inherently more dangerous than many other outdoor activities. I think alcohol and age should be looked at in each case. When I hear of some guy getting killed in his snowmobile at 3am……

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  3. Bret4207 says:

    Booze. I investigated a lot of snowmobile accidents, I’ve been on the periphery of a bunch more. I have always maintained that there is something about a snowmobile, jet ski, crotch rocket or truly powerful car that turns a normally responsible person into a certifiable idiot. Add booze to the mix…what do we expect? Just one more price to living in a permissive and fairly free society.

    Back in the late 60′s and early 70′s during the first snowmobile craze we had busted arms and legs from those 12 and 16 hp monster that would do 30 mph. Now we ahve sleds that will do in excess of 100 mph. Call me nostalgic, but I’d much prefer my old 12.3 Olympic to these modern machines.

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  4. Pete Klein says:

    Car deaths plague the automotive industry. Gun deaths plague the gun industry. Deaths in the hospitals plague the health care industry.

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  5. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Like any motorized sport, there’s always going to be a few idiots among those law abiding citizens who drive with safety and their fellow riders in mind rather than the mindset of who can get to the next bar the fastest.

    And I would argue that the sub par conditions thus far this winter are part of the problem as well. When you get a drunk speed freak who thinks he/she can drive as fast and control their sled as well on very sub par trails as compared to a trail with a good base and a bit of a bank on the side, you’re asking for trouble. I think part of this is due to inexperience and part is due to alcohol and drugs inhibiting rational thought.

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  6. tourpro says:

    “Acceptable by-products” are always fun to debate.

    Even one death should be unacceptable, but apparently we are at a death-level that people have become used to or are willing to “accept”.

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  7. Pete Klein says:

    War deaths plague the Military/Industrial Complex.
    But to address the issue if there is one, I agree with If Clapton and toot. The machines are fast and beautiful, and drinking is often a problem. Night riding adds to the danger, especially with speed.
    Just for the record, I don’t own one but have never had any objection to them.
    Danger? Every time I get in my car and drive, I know my life is at risk.
    Life is very risky and sooner or later we all die.

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  8. Steven says:

    One (1) death unacceptable? If that was the case then we would all be locked up in our houses in padded rooms wearing body armor and gas masks. What an absurd idea that you need to determine how other people act when it doesn’t effect you.

    I am sure alcohol played a part, but that isn’t always true. Speed, youth, and being unlucky are just as likely.

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