Snow Mobile Riders Putting Safety First Following Fatal Crash

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

Landon Dochterman, 13, rides his snowmobile in the yard of his home in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, December 27, 2009. Landon along with his dad, brother, and a friend decided to enjoy some of the fresh snow that had fallen by snowmobiling around their yard on Sunday. (Crystal LoGiudice/The Gazette).

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By Heather Hubbs

COGGON, Iowa - A Central City man is dead, another injured following a snowmobile accident.

The Sheriff's Office said the crash happened east of Coggon, near State Highway 13 between Nugents Road and Monticello Road about 11:20 p.m. Friday.

Investigators sayid the man who died was thrown from his sled after he hit a field fence. He died at the scene.

His family has requested his name not be made public at this time. The injured man, a 20-year-old from Central City, was riding on a second sled, he also hit the fence, and responders took him to the hospital with minor injuries.

This marks the first snowmobile fatality of the year. While news of this tragedy didn't seem to keep riders off their sleds, it's certainly causing some to be a little more cautious.

Snowmobiling is supposed to be a fun winter sport, but if a person isn't careful it can be dangerous

"I've had my share of close calls. One time I hit a culvert, [it] wasn't a good result [and it]makes me that much more cautious," Tim Antons, snowmobile rider, said.

Antons and Chris Ostert have been riding snowmobiles together around Linn County for the past 5 years. They are both well aware of the hazards lurking amongst the trails.

"There are culverts out in the ditch big enough to take a whole sled; you really got to watch for them," Ostert said.

"There's fence posts barb wire, rocks, anything under the surface waiting to get ya," Antons said.

In Friday's fatal snowmobile accident, the drivers both hit a fence post along this stretch of Highway 13. In this incident, they were riding late at night, not uncommon, but when it's dark, riders do have to take extra precautions.

"You have to [take precautions] because your range of vision is just not there. Obviously I don't go as fast. Leave yourself plenty of room to shut down if you need to," Ostert said.

Even when hitting the trails during the daylight hours, Ostert and Antons know they have to put safety first.

"I try to ride where I see there's already tracks. If I ride where there aren't tracks I'm very careful to use logic," said Antones.

The details of the fatal accident are still under investigation. There have been other snowmobile incidents since last month's blizzard hit, but none had been fatal.

On December 30, a 12-year-old boy was injured near Bertram when a car hit the snowmobile he was on. The boy survived after being treated for his injuries. Also on Christmas Eve, a Coggon man was taken to the hospital after a crash near Central City.

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