BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - "We've had several snowmobile accidents this year,” said Sgt. Alan Gillis of the Miane Warden Service. “Unfortunately, several have resulted in fatalities."
On Saturday, authorities say 53-year-old Brian Gatie died after the sled he was driving on a club snowmobile trail in Smithfield struck a tree. The next day, 33-year-old Jason Tracy and his 10-year-old son were killed when the snowmobile they were on also struck a tree. Both crashes are under investigation, but the Maine Warden Service believes speed was a factor in both.
"You should always operate your snowmobile at a speed that's prudent for the existing conditions. What might be safe during the day in a field with plenty of visibility isn't the same speed that's safe at night."
The Warden Services believes alcohol may have also played a part in Tracy's crash.
"Recommend that you just do not drink and drive. If you want to partake in alcohol, do not get on a snowmobile, do not drive."
With warmer weather coming, officials say riders need to take extra precautions when heading out on the trails or on ice.
"We've had some awfully warm weather this winter and that really affects the ice conditions. What may have been safe ice a week ago, might not be necessarily safe this week. So make sure you know the thickness of the ice before you venture out with a snowmobile."
When you do head out, make sure you dress warmly and plan ahead in case the worst should happen.
"Before you go on a trip, make sure you tell someone where you're going, when you're going to be back. Just let them know what you're trip plans are and that way, if something happens and you need to be searched for, we'll know where to start."