Dangerous weekend for snowmobiling in N.H., Maine, Vermont
A snowmobile travels a newly-groomed trail on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 in East Montpelier, Vt. The big snow is giving a big boost to snowmobilers across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Parts of the region have received two feet of snow and more over the last several days, giving a boost to the sport that was hampered last season by a near-snowless winter. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Snowmobiles travel a newly-groomed trail on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 in East Montpelier, Vt. The big snow is giving a big boost to snowmobilers across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Parts of the region have received two feet of snow and more over the last several days, giving a boost to the sport that was hampered last season by a near-snowless winter. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
It was a dangerous weekend for spring snowmobiling in northern New England – a man was killed in Maine, another was injured in Vermont and two women walked for hours in the dark in New Hampshire after their machines got stuck in the snow.
The fatal crash happened Saturday night and was Maine’s sixth snowmobiling fatality this season. According to Maine game wardens, Austin Gardiner, 41, of Hampden, Mass., died after crashing into several trees near the shoreline of Hermon Pond shortly after 9 p.m. Gardiner was riding with a 15-year-old boy who was on a separate snowmobile following behind him. Authorities said speed and alcohol appear to be contributing factors in the crash.
In northern New Hampshire, two women were rescued after getting stranded Saturday night in Pittsburg.
New Hampshire Fish and Game said Joanne Cilley, 51, of Pittsburg and Tatiana Diamond, 47, of Millbury, Mass., had planned to take a short ride about 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Pittsburg but got stuck after leaving a maintained trail. They walked for several hours before they were in range of a cell tower in Quebec and were able to make a brief 911 call, but authorities were unable to call them back because the phone wasn’t activated for Canadian cell towers other than for 911 calls.
Quebec authorities notified the New Hampshire State Police, and Fish and Game Conservation Officer Chris Egan used data from the call to estimate the women’s location. They were found shortly after midnight, exhausted and thirsty but otherwise unharmed.
Officials said the incident highlights the importance of never riding alone and of letting others know your itinerary.
“Having the coordinates from the cell phone call assisted in these riders being located as quickly as possible,” Egan said. “Such clues could make a significant difference in the outcome of a situation in which someone is critically injured, hypothermic or both.”
In Vermont, a 52-year-old man from Windham was injured Saturday evening when he had trouble making a turn in Charleston and went off the side of a small bridge. The Vermont State Police said Donald Wilson was thrown from the snowmobile and collided with a tree. He was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
The crash remains under investigation.