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Snowmobile crashes just keep coming

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

March 19. 2017 8:27PM
Conservation officer Robert Mancini said the warm temperatures of recent weeks followed by the cold snap has created some hazards for snowmobile operators. (COURTESY New Hampshire Fish and Game Department)

A 39-year-old Windham man suffered life-threatening injuries after crashing a snowmobile into a tree in Hebron on Saturday.

The accident is still under investigation, but Fish and Game officials said speed seems to have played a part.

Conservation officer Josiah Towne said Christopher Wilcox left the trail off George Road after breaking through a water bar (an earth berm barrier) and losing control around 9:30 a.m.

Wilcox was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

A few hours later, a second accident involving a snowmobile was reported in Plymouth on Saturday.

According to Towne, Melissa Kolodziej, 44, of Hudson failed to make a turn and was thrown from her snowmobile. Towne said Kolodziej was wearing a helmet and had non-life-threatening injuries.

He said traveling too fast for existing conditions was a contributing factor.

“Riders are warned that most trails have only recently reopened, after warm weather left very little base under the snow, making many trails rough, even with the fresh snow,” Fish and Game said Sunday in a news release.

Around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, conservation officer Matthew Holmes said a Berlin snowmobiler crashed on snow-covered ice.

According to Holmes, Keith Filteau, 29, was returning to his family’s camp after fueling up in Errol and riding across Umbagog Lake, when he hit a plowed embankment where a bob-house had been located.

Filteau was thrown from the machine and onto the ice, where he used a flashlight as a beacon to summon help from family members staying at his camp, who called 911.

According to Holmes, family members knew the route Filteau was using and what time he expected to return. They were watching for him when they saw the “SOS” beacon from his flashlight.

“Keith was alone at the time of the crash and had it not been for someone paying attention, it is likely that he would not have been discovered for a prolonged period of time,” Holmes said in a news release.

At the time of the accident, all available Errol Fire and Rescue personnel were assisting with another snowmobile crash in the Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant.

A mutual aid call was issued, with rescuers from the Colebrook Fire Department and 45th Parallel EMS responding, along with New Hampshire state troopers and state Fish and Game Department conservation officers.

Filteau was taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Conservation officers believe speed and unforeseen hazards on the lake were the chief contributing causes of the crash. Filteau was wearing a helmet and eye protection, officers said.

So far this winter, six snowmobilers have died, including three who drowned after their snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake Winnipesaukee last month.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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