Winter thrills can kill, so snowmobile with care

This weekend, a visiting snowmobiler was leading a group through some Kalkaska woods when his snowmobile’s ski caught an edge and threw the 45-year-old off his sled and into some trees.

This appears to be the eighth snowmobiling death around the state since Christmas.

A 46-year-old woman was flung from her snowmobile in Ishpeming after she hit some rocks along the lakeshore. A 35-year-old man hit a tree in Columbus. A 60-year-old woman went through the ice in Linwood, and a 54-year-old crashed in Ishpeming. Both a 51-year old and a 71-year-old man also lost their lives in snowmobile crashes this weekend.

Fifteen people died on snowmobiles between 2017-2018. Twenty-four people died between 2015-2016.

We love our snowmobiles, but there’s no denying that they can be dangerous.

There are a number of elements that are tough to control when riding — hidden rocks, unseen branches, thin ice — but there are some that we can.

Please be extra cautious when you’re riding in unfamiliar areas. Many of us travel to new snowmobile destinations and may be out of our element, or only drive snowmobiles a few times a year.

Also watch your speed — Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officers said a large percentage of snowmobile crashes happen when drivers take a corner too fast.

Be at your best behind the steering post, which means limiting drugs and alcohol.

Lastly, expect the unexpected, so prepare for emergencies on the trail, with a First-Aid kit, motor repair kits, failsafe communication, food, water and warmth.

— Traverse City Record-Eagle

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