Snowmobile rescue comes with a steep price tag

Emergency personnel say before you take your snow machine out on thin ice, you might want to consider the resources required to rescue you.

While search and rescue teams will fish you out free of charge, your snowmachine might not be as lucky

This piece of equipment is known as "Big Red," which Pierre Lafond uses to pull snowmobiles out of ice and water. (Lafond towing)
Ever wonder what it costs to rescue someone who goes through the ice and retrieve their snow machine? It can be costly. Pierre Lafond has pulled snow machines out of waterways all over Ontario. He told us what it takes and what it costs to get it done.

Emergency personnel say before you take your snow machine out on thin ice, you might want to consider the resources required to rescue you.

The assistant deputy fire chief with the Sudbury fire department told CBC News that at least once a year, the rescue crew has to save someone who has gone through the ice.

To do that, a minimum of six to 10 firefighters are needed, along with three to five different types of apparatus.

"There's a huge risk involved when performing any type of ice water rescue," Jesse Oshell said.

"And so that is one of the main reasons why we have so many resources on scene at that particular time."

Oshell said a normal rescue costs about $1,000, and can increase depending on the situation. That cost is paid for by the city.

Towing costs in the thousands

As for towing the snow machine out of the water, that bill is paid for by the snowmachine owner. According to one local tow company, the price tag on that can be thousands of dollars.

"We did one last year in Parry Sound, with a diver and 60 feet of water," said Pierre Lafond, who owns a towing company based out of Sturgeon Falls.

"And it was around the $10,000 mark."

If a snow machine is found to be leaking fuel into the waterway, provincial fines could be added to the bill as well.

The variables involved in a snowmobile recovery are huge, Lafond noted, and that will determine whether it costs a few hundred dollars or thousands.

"It depends how long it takes. If you need divers, they're between two to five thousand dollars."

If the machine sinks down to the bottom and stays there, it's relatively easy for the diver to recover, Lafond continued.

"But if there's current and the machine went 300 feet from the hole, maybe you'll need more divers, because they're going to have to locate the machine."

Lafond custom built the snowmobile recovery machine he affectionately calls "Big Red" and says it's the only one of its kind in Canada.

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