Fortunately the two drivers and two passengers managed to get out of the water and make it to safety. This is a rare and fortunate outcome given that snowmobilers in these types of incidents often do not make it out alive.
When ice forms early and may look safe, it is likely not yet thick, strong or stable enough to support much weight. This also applies when waterways experience prolonged periods of thaw or rain which can cause ice to weaken suddenly, and towards spring after ice begins to deteriorate from milder temperatures.
Adhering to land-based OFSC prescribed trails whenever possible offers the safest snowmobile terrain. They provide many trails that avoid water crossings altogether as well as bridges and culverts to pass over known water crossings safely.
If you do make the personal choice to take the risk of travelling on ice by snowmobile, wait until a marked stake line is in place and cross only when you can follow it directly from shore to shore, without stopping on the ice. While ice crossing is never a sure thing, snowmobilers can also reduce their risk by:
- Checking ice thickness and quality before riding onto any frozen water.
- Understanding that ice conditions may vary from day to day, from hour to hour and from place to place.
- Never travelling on ice alone, at night or while impaired.
- Avoiding slushy ice, untracked ice, or ice near moving water or dock bubblers.
- Watching out for obstacles like rocks, stumps, docks, ice roads and fishing huts.
- Wearing a buoyant snowmobile suit and carrying ice picks.
The OFSC is committed to proactive leadership in promoting safe, responsible riding, on and offOntario snowmobile trails, by building safer snowmobiling knowledge, attitudes and behaviours through rider education, safety legislation development and enforcement. For more information, visit ofsc.on.ca.