DNR urging caution after 3 snowmobile related deaths reported this winter

Updated: December 20, 2019 06:51 PM

With 22,000 miles of trails to take in the scenery and fresh air, snowmobiling is a treasured Minnesota activity.

Scott Kohls has been out riding four times already this winter. His daughter is back from college, so the two couldn't wait to hit the Luce Line Trail Friday. 

"We're going to go out, have lunch, just go out and enjoy the day, get outside," he said.

The DNR says three people have already been killed this winter in snowmobile accidents. One was a 12-year-old boy.

12-year-old dies after snowmobile crash in Nicollet County

"To see this many fatalities this early in the season is concerning to us," said DNR Conservation Officer Arnaud Kpachavi.

KSTP went along for a ride Friday morning to see how the trails look. 

Even with 3 to 4 inches of snowpack, the trails around the metro are bumpy.

"They are pretty rough down here because we had warm weather right after that early snow so it was tough for groomers to get out," Kpachavi added.

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The speed limit on trails in Minnesota is 50 mph, but the DNR says they often see accidents involving excessive speed.

"A lot of the fatalities and crashes, whether injury or not, almost always involve excessive speed," he said.

Alcohol is the other main contributing factor in crashes.

And despite cold enough temperatures to sit and ice fish with pop-ups, the DNR says there have already been close calls this winter with sleds that have gone through thin ice.

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Snowmobilers for years, Kohls and his daughter know the dangers, and keep safety a top priority when out riding.

"I like the last couple weeks where we've had sub-zero temperatures so we can have a safe winter to ride," he said.

The DNR reminds riders that ice needs to be 5 to 7 inches thick to hold an ATV or a snowmobile. 

You can research trail conditions here.

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Jessica Miles

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