HOLLIS (WGME) – It’s been a deadly few weeks on Maine snowmobile trails.
Two more people — one of them a teenager– were killed last weekend in snowmobile accidents, bringing this year’s total to five.
“Five is way too many,” said Sgt. Jason Luce of the Maine Warden Service. “A lot of these could be prevented if people would just slow down a little bit.”
Two people died Saturday in separate snowmobile crashes.
The first happened on Pennesseewassee Lake in Norway.
Game wardens said that Gracie Onofrio, 51, hit a snow bank on a trail and was thrown off of the snowmobile she was operating. She then was struck by a second snowmobile in the group she was riding with. She died at the scene.
Later that night, two snowmobilers were riding on Thompson Lake in Poland when a 17-year-old from Massachusetts hit a snow bank, was thrown from his snowmobile and died, according to the warden service.
Wardens said that pressure ridges can quickly form on lakes creating walls of ice. They also said that riders should keep a safe distance between them and other snowmobilers and slow down, especially at night.
“By the time they see something in their headlights, they don’t have time to stop, or time to avoid it,” Luce said.
Dan Yarumian of the Hollis Honkers Snowmobile Club said speed has been a problem.
“People riding too fast for their experience levels, really,” he said. “People are just excited to get out and don’t realize how much power they’re sitting on top of and just bad things happen.”
Yarumian said that part of the problem is the terrain itself and that some riders are not watching out for tree limbs and other obstructions. In addition, the recent rain and snow have made trails slick.
“Yeah, it was really icy this last snow we got, just trying to get out with all the ice underneath it,” he said. “You just got to keep your speed down. You can’t go any faster than what you can stop in. You never know what’s around the next corner.”