April 20, 2010

Two snowmobilers go through open water on Moosehead Lake

Others in group form human chain to pull them out

Betty Jespersen

MOOSEHEAD LAKE - Two snowmobilers in a group of seven went into open water on the East Outlet of Moosehead Lake Thursday
evening, according to a press release from the Maine Department Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The drivers were pulled from the water by the other sledders who used rope and formed a human chain to grab hold of them, according to Maine Warden Service Game Warden Troy Dauphinee.

The seven snowmobilers were working their way down the west side of the lake from the Kineo Mountain area  towards Greenville.
At about 6:25 p.m., according to the press release, the front two snowmobilers, Rob George and Stu Hummel, both of Rhode Island,
went into the water with their sleds.

George's son, David, also of Rhode Island, got wet in the attempt to pull the men from the water.

Scott Snell from nearby Wilson’s Camp was able to call from shore and give directions to the group so that they could walk to shore,
the release stated.

Greenville Fire and Rescue responded to the scene as well as the Charles A. Dean Ambulance Service, and several wardens arrived to assist with an airboat.

Other members of the party were Robert St. Jean, Jimmy Chaffee, Jay George, and William Given, all of Rhode Island, and Robert
Carpeti of Cranberry Township, Penn.

Hummel and Rob George were taken to the Charles A. Dean Hospital in Greenville where they were treated for cold water exposure.

Last year, a Pennsylvania couple died when their snowmobiles went into open water on the East Outlet, according to department
spokesperson Deborah Turcotte in the release.

The Maine Warden Service is advising people to use caution on ice and not to drive heavy vehicles on larger lakes and ponds.

Recent above-average temperatures have caused ice to rapidly deteriorate throughout the state. Today's heavy rains, which will
continue into the night, will create fast-moving rivers and streams that will run off into lakes and ponds, creating dangerous
conditions especially around inlets and outlets, according to Turcotte.
 
Also, the rain is creating slush on lakes and ponds that is thinning the ice. People are strongly advised to use good judgment and check ice conditions if venturing onto any waterway. If unfamiliar with a waterway, don't go onto it, especially in the dark, she said.

The Maine Warden Service offers these tips for ice safety:

• Never guess the thickness of the ice. Check it in several different places by making a test hole, starting at the shore and continuing
as you go out.

• Check the ice with a partner. If alone, wear a lifejacket.

 • If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off. Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and dark ice are other signs of weak spots.
 

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