Snowmobiler dies after losing control of his sled – the first fatality this season

It's the first fatality of the season.

It's not even officially winter yet, but Minnesota just had its first snowmobile death of the 2017-2018 season. 

A man from Swatara, a small community in northern Minnesota, was killed in a snowmobile accident early Thursday, the Cass County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

According to the release, the sheriff's office got a call at 6:05 a.m. saying a man had been taken to a residence after a snowmobile crash. When deputies arrived, he was pronounced dead.

The victim has been identified as 23-year-old Jeremy Joseph Gindele of Swatara.

Authorities say Gindele was riding a 2007 Ski-Doo 600 Renegade in a field on private property when he lost control of the machine and was thrown off. 

They didn't mention whether Gindele was wearing a helmet, or if alcohol was a factor in the crash. According to the DNR's snow depth and trail conditions map, there wasn't much, if any powder on the ground when the crash happened.

An autopsy is scheduled with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office and the crash remains under investigation.

Snowmobile fatalities in Minnesota

Five Minnesotans were killed in snowmobile accidents during the 2016-2017 snowmobile season between Dec. 31, 2016 and March 19, 2017, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

All five of the victims were men; three of them were between the ages of 18 and 22, while the other two were in their mid-40s. All of those who died did not have the required snowmobile safety certification.

The DNR says the top four factors involved in the crashes included: driving too fast for conditions (inability to recognize that stopping distance increases with speed), alcohol use, operators thrown from the snowmobile, and striking a fixed object. 

Snowmobile deaths have fallen substantially since the 1990s, the Star Tribune says, when fatalities regularly topped 20 a year and peaked at 32.

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