A young Minnesota man was killed in a snowmobile accident on New Year's Eve.
According to a news release from the Cook County Sheriff's Office, 22-year-old Wayne Gunnar Anderson was snowmobiling with a friend along the ditch of County Road 8 in Grand Marais when they hit something under the snow and were launched from their sleds.
Though an autopsy is still pending, it is believed that the impact broke Anderson's neck, the sheriff's office said. Authorities were called to the scene around 5:30 p.m., and Anderson was taken to North Shore Health where he later died, WDIO reports.
The men had hit deep crevices of a creek-bed that were covered in the snow, the sheriff's office said, which caused them to be ejected from the snowmobiles. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
Anderson's parents told the Star Tribune their son was an "experienced and responsible rider," and his longtime friend and riding partner, Jacob Schroeder, described the accident as a fluke that "could happen to anybody."
There were 74 snowmobile incidents and three fatalities last winter, according to the DNR. GoMN has reached out to the department to find out if this is the first snowmobile fatality since then.
Of those incidents, the DNR says about half of them occurred on a government-marked trail or on the road with the right of way. And 54 percent of them happened when the driver struck a fixed object.
They offer these tips to stay safe while snowmobiling:
- Don't ride in bad weather, and dress properly.
- Plan your trip and check the trails you'll be riding before leaving. Here's where to find trail conditions and trail maps.
- Don't drink and ride – alcohol is a factor in more than 70 percent of all fatal accidents in Minnesota.
- Ride with a buddy so one of you can call for help if something should happen.
- Slow down, stay to the right, and stick to the trail.
- Avoid riding on frozen lakes and rivers.
- Take a snowmobile safety training course.