CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (News10)-First responders are asking snowmobilers to be extra careful after three accidents in the Capital Region in less than a week. Two of the incidents resulted in fatalities.
The latest accident happened Saturday night. Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo says a 20-year-old man named Garrett Macintosh of Florida, New York died after a crash on the Great Sacandaga Lake. “The other snowmobiler was ahead of him. He looked back to see where he was. [He] didn’t see the headlight on the snowmobile and turned around and went back. Saw that it was overturned and that he [Macintosh] was on the ice.” Zurlo says his office is investigating the cause of the crash.
Earlier in week on Wednesday there was another accident in the Albany County town of Berne. The Albany County Sheriff says it happened around 1am when a 25-year-old man crashed his snowmobile. First responders are credited with rescuing him 300 feet from the roadway.
The very next night in Fulton County, 3 riders on Peck Lake unexpectedly encountered open water. 2 sleds went in. “And then the third fella helped,” said Sheriff Richard Giardino. “Threw his tow rope to get the second fella out. And then they both tried to get to the third friend, Todd. and they were unable to,” he added. Todd Wheaton, a husband and father to an infant baby boy died as a result of the accident. Giardino says the riders were unaware that a stream feeding the lake had weakened the ice.
He showed News10’s Anya Tucker special gear that can buy a rider time should they go through, including a vest that automatically inflates and a jacket that offers an amount of buoyancy.
“It buys you time and may make a difference,” said Giardino. Most lakes and ponds are typically ice covered this time of year, but due to unusually warm weather the crust is now thin at best. “Very dangerous,” he said. “We are encouraging people to stay off all the lakes for their own safety. Whether ice fishing, whether snowmobiles or four wheelers.” One thing all these accidents have in common is that they occurred at night. Both Zurlo and Giardino encourage snowmobilers to ride during daylight, and to just play it safe.