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Snowmobile fatalities already at 8, last winter's total

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The death of a recently married 26-year-old Carver County man who crashed while riding his snowmobile on the way to work brings Minnesota's snowmobile fatality count to eight, the total for all of last winter.

Chaska police say Dan Schlueter on Tuesday morning was on his way to work at Van-Tech in Savage when his snowmobile crashed, FOX 9 reported.

Police say Schlueter had not been on a groomed trail and ran into a tree, a fallen tree or another obstruction, the Associated Press reported.

Schlueter was able to call a roommate, but didn't offer much detail, which prompted a search, FOX reported.

A Chaska police officer found Schlueter near the Minnesota River in downtown Chaska, semiconscious and suffering from the onset of hypothermia. He was taken to a local medical center and then to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died before noon, FOX reported.

His roommate Mark Bartusch Jr. told FOX that Schlueter, who married his high school sweetheart in April, loved snowmobiling and dirt bikes.

Schlueter's death was the eighth snowmobile fatality in Minnesota this winter, according to a tally from the Department of Natural Resources. All eight were men and ranged in age from 22 to 63.

The 63-year-old was a Shafer man who died riding a snowmobile that he was not familiar with, which had a left-handed throttle. A witness said the vehicle accelerated rapidly and hit a parked car-hauling trailer nearby.

Two of the deaths fell during Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week in January. “Snowmobiling is one of Minnesota’s most popular activities,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “Unfortunately, unsafe snowmobiling can result in serious injury."

State safety officials are urging snowmobilers to: slow down, never drink and drive, dress warmly for weather, never drive tired, be vigilant around ice, and always monitor weather reports.

Snowmobile deaths in Minnesota, according to the DNR:

Winter of 2013-14 (so far) – 8
2012-13 – 8
2011-12 – 6
2010-11 – 13
2009-10 – 19

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