After two men were killed in unrelated Manitoba snowmobile accidents over the weekend, the provincial snowmobile organization is urging riders to be careful, especially so early in the season.
RCMP said neither victim – one in Churchill and one in Ninette – was wearing a helmet.
Alan Butler, president of Snowmobilers of Manitoba (Snoman) told 680 CJOB that protective gear is a must, no matter where a person is using a sled.
“A helmet is likely the most important piece of equipment we wear when we’re snowmobiling. It doesn’t take much to create a serious situation if you’re not wearing one,” he said.
“It’s hard to figure out why someone would get on a sled with out a helmet, but it’s early in the season. People are getting their sleds ready – and I suppose maybe we’ve all been guilty of it at some point in time, where you just go around the block to make sure everything’s working.
“Obviously that shouldn’t be done (without a helmet).”
The two deaths already match the total number of snowmobile fatalities Manitoba saw all year in 2018.
Butler said one of last year’s tragic incidents took place when a sled fell into the water, and promoting ice safety is one of Snoman’s major goals for this season.
“Most areas of the province haven’t had sufficient cold weather to adequately freeze bodies of water like lakes and rivers,” he said.
“With this warmer weather that we get periodically, the creeks are still flowing, so there may be a crest of ice on it… but unfortunately the water is still flowing and the ice isn’t thick enough yet to support the weight of a rider and a snowmobile.”
Although some areas of the province have seen more snow than others, Butler said no Snoman-affiliated clubs have been actively grooming snowmobile trails yet this season. He expects it’ll take another six inches of snow before that begins in earnest.
RCMP continue to investigate the pair of weekend deaths.