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After fatal snowmobile crashes, officials advise: don’t drink and ride

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:45 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Three fatal crashes over 2 weekends bring snowmobile safety to the forefront.

Snowmobiling is one of the most popular winter activities in the north country, drawing people in from across the state and other parts of the country.

But like driving a car, it can be dangerous if you don’t follow the rules of the trails. Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli has dealt with numerous snowmobile crashes over the years. He says most of them have a couple things in common.

“It comes down to speed and alcohol. All the time. Speed and alcohol,” he said.

The state speed limit for snowmobilers is 55 miles per hour and the limit for your blood alcohol content is .08, the same for driving. Sheriff Carpinelli says operating a snowmobile is a lot like operating a car, and people should take it seriously.

“People are adults. Unfortunately, when they get on machines and they involve alcohol, they stop thinking like adults and tragic situations occur. And that’s what’s happened,” he said.

Lewis County emergency crews have responded to three fatal snowmobile crashes since last weekend. A fourth person had to be airlifted to the hospital. More snow brings more people to the trails.

One Lewis County snowmobile safety instructor says, regardless of age, everyone needs to take a safety class.

“If you’ve been a rider for 40 years and you’re bringing your 10-year-old to the class for the first time, guaranteed you’re going to learn something from that class that you might’ve forgotten about,” said Lee Anne Greene, Lewis County representative, Lost Trail Club.

Greene says the course, offered by local snowmobile clubs, is free.

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