Snowmobiling is a vastly popular pastime in cold-weather climates. In rural Canada in particular there is an almost fanatical passion for snowmobiling, both as a fun way to pass the winter months and as a valuable means of transportation.
However, each year numerous snowmobile deaths reach the headlines. Some are caused through reckless driving, others through negligence on the part of other motorists. This month, a family in Manitoba is mourning the death of a father and son who died as a result of a head-on accident. CTV News reports:
Gary Schellenberg, 49, and his 14-year-old son, Evan, were snowmobiling near their cabin at English Lake, Man., at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Sunday when the collision occurred.
According to relatives, the father of six was heading from a campfire to the family cabin when his snowmobile crashed head-on into another driven by his son, who was travelling from the cabin to the campfire.
Russell, Gary’s 21-year-old son and Evan’s older brother, was riding alongside his father when the crash took place.
The 21-year old said he immediately ran to his father and checked for vital signs.
“I checked on my dad and he’s not breathing,” Russell told CTV Winnipeg. “So I rushed over to Evan.”
Russell says he carefully removed Evan’s helmet and found the teenager “somewhat breathing.”
The older brother began to administer CPR and told a friend to go call 911.
When police arrived hours later, at approximately 4 a.m., they found the father and son dead. A woman who was injured during the accident was sent to hospital in stable condition.
At nearly the same time last year, the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Association issued a safety warning following the death of a 21-year old accident victim. According to the CBC:
A young man from a community near Port aux Basques has died, following a snowmobile accident on the west coast of Newfoundland.
Family members of the 21-year-old man said he was snowmobiling in the Lewis Hills area on Tuesday night, when he struck a rock and went over the handlebars.
After receiving some assistance from other snowmobilers in the area, the man made his way to hospital, but died suddenly.
Personal injury lawyers like Toronto’s Neinstein & Associates can help you recover from your injury in some snowmobile accident cases, but the best defence is to avoid injury altogether. Ferguson Barristers, acknowledging that “snowmobiling can be a great source of enjoyment for families and individuals and a great way to get outside during the long winter months,” has offered an excellent list of snowmobile safety tips:
Before heading out, it is important to familiarize yourself with the following safety precautions and driving requirements to avoid injuries:
- Inform others of your destination and arrival time
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions to prevent yourself from getting hypothermia
- Inspect your snowmobile for mechanical integrity
- Contact the local snowmobile club to check riding conditions (e.g., weather, trail and ice)
- Stay within your riding capabilities and never travel alone
- Stay on the right-hand side of the trail, even when parked
- Take extra care when encountering corners, hills and crossings
- When riding over lakes and rivers, be aware of ice conditions and wear flotation clothing
- At night, reduce your speed – your headlight limits how far you can see
- Never operate a snowmobile if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs
Planning ahead, acting sensible and following safety precautions will help to avoid snowmobiling accidents and associated injuries, which may include broken bones, neck injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and/or psychological/emotional injuries.
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) has also provided some excellent safety instruction, including this video:
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a snowmobiling accident, call Neinstein & Associates personal injury lawyers to assess your basis for a personal injury claim.