Conservation Police urge safety following series of snowmobile accidents

Online Staff Report

In the aftermath of recent snowfall in Illinois, particularly in the northern Illinois region, there has been a significant increase in the number of snowmobilers taking advantage of sledding opportunities on both public and private lands.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police remind snowmobile operators to make safety their first priority to avoid serious or even fatal injuries in snowmobile accidents.

During the month of February, Region 1 IDNR Conservation Police in northern Illinois have handled multiple serious snowmobile accidents resulting in personal injuries to snowmobile operators and passengers. In addition, the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office handled a fatal snowmobile accident Feb. 27.

The majority of these snowmobile accidents involved subjects who were riding in areas in which they were unfamiliar with the terrain or conditions, they were inexperienced in operation of their snowmobile, and/or they were operating the snowmobiles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Illinois Conservation Police are highlighting these accidents in an effort to increase awareness of the need to obey snowmobile regulations and operate in a safe manner:

Feb. 3: A 9-year-old child in Stephenson County was operating a snowmobile with her mother as a passenger. The child lost control of the snowmobile, and it struck the side of a building in Rock City. The mother suffered multiple injuries and was transported to Rockford Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Feb. 9: A 32-year-old Sycamore man was involved in a snowmobile accident in DeKalb County in which he was injured and for which he was charged with operation under the influence (OUI) and operation without a driver’s license or safety card. As a result of the accident, the man was airlifted to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford for treatment.

Feb. 22: A 22-year-old Rock Falls man was involved in a snowmobile accident in Whiteside County in which he struck a mailbox and telephone pole. The snowmobile operator was charged with operation under the influence and operating too fast for conditions. The individual was transported to CGH Hospital in Sterling for treatment of his injuries.

Feb. 22: A 28-year-old Rock Falls man was injured after he lost control of the snowmobile he was operating in a farm field in rural Whiteside County. The accident victim was treated at CGH in Sterling.

Feb. 24: A 55-year-old Rockford man, along with an 8-year-old passenger, were both seriously injured after the snowmobile they were operating struck a parked pickup truck in a field in rural Winnebago County. Both the man and child were transported to Rockford Memorial Hospital for treatment. The adult accident victim was charged with careless operation and operating under the influence (OUI).

Feb. 27: A 40-year-old Henry County man was thrown from his snowmobile after it struck a cement culvert in rural Orion while the victim was riding with friends. He was transported to Trinity Hospital in Rock Island for treatment.

Feb. 27: A 33-year-old DeKalb woman was injured as result of a snowmobile accident at Shabbona Lake State Park in rural DeKalb County. She was transported to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb for treatment of her injuries.

Feb. 27: At approximately 1:30 a.m., 36-year-old Donovan J. Stephens of Colona was fatally injured after he was ejected from the snowmobile he was operating in Rock Island County near East Moline. The accident is under investigation by the Rock Island County Coroner and the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department.

Any snowmobile operator involved in a personal injury or property damage accident is required by law to report the incident to the Illinois Conservation Police. Anyone who observes unsafe snowmobiling operation is encouraged to report the incident to their local Conservation Police officer. The Illinois Conservation Police can be reached through your local Illinois State Police District.

Posted March 1, 2013

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