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Monday, January 22, 2007

Ice not Safe!

Ice not solid enough for snowmobiles

Keep off the ice, snowmobilers are being warned.

Two snowmobiles crashed through the ice on Lake Scugog Wednesday evening. A 52-year-old man and 15-year-old girl were treated for minor injuries after Port Perry firefighters rescued them.

Despite the recent drop in temperature, there has not been sufficient time for bodies of water to freeze enough to support the weight of the snow vehicles.

"We certainly wouldn't recommend it with these few cold days and night that anyone would venture on to ice, especially in southern Ontario," Paul Shaughnessy, executive director of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobiliers, said yesterday.

He said if snowmobilers don't know the conditions of the ice, "don't go, period."

In Wednesday's accident, the man and the girl were operating separate snowmobiles and drove on to the lake after seeing other snowmobile tracks. When they noticed the ice thinning, they tried to turn around, but it was too late.

York Regional Police issued a warning yesterday that it's still too dangerous to be on Lake Simcoe, a favourite ice- fishing spot.

Police urge people to wear floatation devices, not to fish or snowmobile alone, let people know where you'll be, know the ice and weather conditions and be suspicious of grey, dark or porous spots in the ice as they may be soft. Blue ice is generally strongest.

Shaughnessy said the basic rule of thumb is to stay off the ice unless it's a marked route that has been checked over by qualified people.

"Typically, when you hear of these incidents, it's people who are going on to unchartered areas," he said. "They are going in areas where it's not a marked route. They're usually following the tracks of someone else, or they're even going in an area where there are no tracks.

"Certainly don't go on the basis that you saw somebody's else's tracks. That doesn't indicate that it's a safe surface. You have no idea what the vehicle was, what the individual was doing ... you have no idea what speed or what weight you're dealing with."


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