January 22, 2018 1:04 pm
Updated: January 22, 2018 1:06 pm

Highest number of snowmobile deaths in nearly 15 years last winter: OPP

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2013, file photo, Mike Martin, of Galesburg, Ill., drives his Arctic Cat snowmobile during the Annual Prairie Drifters Snowmobile Radar Run at Lake Storey in Galesburg.

(Steve Davis/The Register-Mail via AP, File)

Provincial police say last winter marked the highest number of snowmobile-related deaths the force has responded to in almost 15 years.

They say they responded to 27 snowmobile deaths in the winter of 2016-2017 – one third of which involved people travelling on frozen waterways who went through the ice.

READ MORE: OPP dive team recover body of missing snowmobiler from Sturgeon Lake

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OPP say that’s the highest number of such deaths the force has responded to since the winter of 2003-2004.

Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair says the vast majority of the 27 people who died last winter took “unnecessary risks”.

READ MORE: Weekend snowmobile crashes in southwestern Ontario leave 2 men dead, one in hospital

He says speeding, driving too fast for the conditions, consuming alcohol, riding on unsafe ice and other risky behaviours lead to snowmobile deaths every year.

The police force released the statistics in advance of what it’s calling “safe snowmobile week”. It is participating in the campaign with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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