Snowmobile death in Lewis Hills sparks safety warning

A snowmobile federation on the west coast of Newfoundland has issued a safety warning after a man from Rose Blanche died in an accident Tuesday.

Light snow means obstacles not easy to identify

The Snowmobile Federation says there isn't enough snow in many areas to cover obstacles like rocks and tree stumps. (CBC)

A snowmobile federation on the west coast of Newfoundland has issued a safety warning after a man from Rose Blanche died in an accident Tuesday.

"It's a sad moment for the snowmobile industry as a whole," said Tom Humphrey, of the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Association, Thursday.

The 21-year-old accident victim was driving in Lewis Hills when he struck a rock and went over the handlebars. He died in hospital.

"Nobody likes to see snowmobile accidents, particularly when there's tragedy involved," Humphrey told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

Humphrey said it's a bit early in the season to suit up.

"We're behind the normal conditions for this time of the year. I know none of our groomers have started to operate," he said.

"The conditions are not there for it, and the forecast is looking probably closer to the latter part of the month before we see any snow."

Conditions are not good in many places, he said, including Lewis Hills.

"There's been no major snowfalls. We've only had a continuous light sprinkle and as a result of that, you've got obstacles that are not easy to identify."

Light powder snow, he said, could obscure a rock or a tree stump and the wide open country can be more dangerous than a groomed trail.

It's not mandatory to wear a helmet while snowmobiling in this province, but the Snowmobiling Federation says it could save your life. (Newfoundland Snowmobile Federation)

Humphrey is not telling people to park their snowmobiles, but he said you have to know the terrain.

"Never, ever travel alone," he said.

"Make sure you carry some proper equipment and proper clothing with you, and make sure always you have a first aid kit with you."

It's not mandatory to wear a helmet while snowmobiling in this province, but Humphrey said his federation, which represents 16 snowmobile clubs, is pushing for legislation to change that.

"These are very high speed machines. There's been several accidents and tragedies over the last few years with people without helmets, so that's critically important today."

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