Ranger Report: Ice pressure crack hurts snowmobilers

State forest rangers helped two victims of snowmobile crashes in Herkimer County and also trained for rescue missions in winter weather over the last week.

Pressure crack crash

On Jan. 28 at 4:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Patrick Lee overheard radio traffic from Herkimer County 911 reporting a snowmobile accident on Stillwater Reservoir. Herkimer County 911 indicated there were two accidents and that both victims were at the Stillwater Restaurant.

Lee arrived at 4:40 p.m. and located the two snowmobilers from Pennsylvania. A 53-year-old suffered a head injury and could not remember the accident or how he got to the restaurant. He also had abdominal pain and a significant hand injury. A 14-year-old subject was having difficulty breathing and suffering from chest pain. Rangers Aimee Bills and Tanner Stone arrived at 5 p.m. to assist with patient care. At 6 p.m., the 14-year-old was airlifted to the hospital by Mercy Flight and the 53-year-old was taken to the hospital by the Old Forge ambulance service.

The accidents were caused by a pressure crack that crosses the main portion of the lake where the trail crosses. Pressure cracks form on frozen bodies of water, move without notice and are difficult to see. Snowmobilers should take caution when riding on frozen lakes. More information about snowmobile safety is available on the New York State Parks website.

Hoist training

On Jan. 29, eight forest rangers and State Police pilot Kneer participated in hoist training at the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear. Training in the snow provides a much different experience than training in spring and summer. Rangers operate a hoist inside the helicopter, lowering other rangers down to the ground.

Avalanche safety training

On Jan. 27, Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus participated in a three-day avalanche safety course conducted by the National Ski Patrol at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington. Mecus was among 17 students from across the Northeast. The course focused on basic avalanche science, understanding the snowpack and how it relates to avalanche danger, and techniques for reaching subjects in the event of an avalanche.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today