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February 17. 2013 10:14PM

Two killed in weekend snowmobile accidents

New Hampshire's snow-covered slopes proved a popular, but dangerous, destination over the long Presidents' Day weekend, with four snowmobile crashes, including two fatal ones.

New Hampshire Fish and Game officials reported accidents took place in Grafton and Lempster, while a Manchester man was killed while snowmobiling with his son in Auburn and an Errol man was killed Sunday afternoon in Pittsburg.

Keith Ryan, 41, of Manchester was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon at Elliot Hospital after the snowmobile he was operating near Lake Massabesic hit a rock and accelerated, throwing him onto nearby rocks. His son, who was a passenger, was also thrown from the snowmobile and injured. He was transported to Elliot Hospital as well, suffering from a concussion, and a fractured hip and femur, according to Fish and Game officials. No further information on his condition was available Sunday night.

Christine Papciak of Auburn was walking her dog nearby when she heard screaming and crying at the accident scene.

"There were two guys that were out ice fishing, and they came running and offered jackets," said Papchiak. "I saw the victim's girlfriend performing CPR on him, and I could see the boy off to the side under a blanket. The man's two daughters were hysterical, saying they didn't want their dad to die. I offered to take them to my car and wait with them while Krista, the man's girlfriend, stayed with the man. They wanted to call their mom, so they used my phone."

As EMTs transported Ryan and his son to the Elliot, Papchiak gave Krista and the two daughters a ride to the hospital.

"She couldn't find her guys, so I offered to take them," said Papchiak. "I felt so bad for them. Krista told me they were both alive when they left the lake. The girls were so upset."

Papchiak later went back to the scene of the accident and retrieved jackets, boots and Krista's keys. She took them back to the family at the Elliot.

"I found out it was a fatal accident," said Papchiak. "The boy was in surgery then, and I didn't hear anything more."

Papchiak, who leaves near the lake, said she couldn't recall any similar accidents at that location.

On Sunday, John Allen, 63, of Errol died as a result of injuries sustained in a snowmobile crash in Pittsburg.

Fish and Game officers said at 2 p.m. Sunday emergency personnel were called to the scene of the single-vehicle crash on Trail 138, near River Road in Pittsburg. The operator, Allen, was found unresponsive against some trees approximately 15 feet from the trail.

Resuscitation efforts were initiated, and Allen was transported from the scene by rescue sled, with CPR in progress. Allen succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead later that afternoon. Authorities said excessive speed appears to have been the primary factor in the accident.

Two other snowmobile accidents occurred Saturday as well.

At 1:46 p.m. Saturday, Fish and Game officers responded to a report of a snowmobile accident in Lempster. The accident occurred on Trail No. 393, approximately a half mile from the intersection with Mountain Road.

Responding officers reported that a group of five friends from Connecticut were snowmobiling in the area, traveling north on Trail 393, also known as the Bean Mountain trail. Reports indicate that the passenger's seat on a 2007 Ski-Doo GTX snowmobile, operated by Arthur Raczkowski, 40, of Connecticut, disconnected from the rest of the machine, causing a passenger, Adam Zakrzewski, 33, also of Connecticut, to fall backwards off the snowmobile.

Zakrzewski struck the ground, causing injuries requiring him to be airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. No further information on his condition was available Sunday night.

The incident remains under investigation by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Also on Saturday, at 2:50 p.m., Robert Hughes Jr., 49, of Framingham, Mass., suffered left shoulder and leg injuries while riding a snowmobile on Kilton Pond in Grafton. Fish and Game officials said Hughes was operating the snowmobile when he failed to negotiate a turn on the pond, causing it to roll over. Witnesses to the accident called 911, and Hughes was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with minor injuries.

Fish and Game officials said the cause of the accident was not alcohol-related, but did say speed and inexperience of the rider appear to be contributing factors.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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