Maine Game Wardens are serious when they say alcohol and snowmobiling don’t mix. They responded to a close call in Sinclair this weekend, two Brewer men were under the influence and driving their sleds when they hit open water between Long Lake and Mud Lake.
District Game Warden Ryan Fitzpatrick says, “it was very early in the morning..around one o’clock..weather conditions were bad, it was snowing pretty hard..visibility was very very poor. That with the combined affect of alcohol, bad things happen.”
Luckily the water wasn’t too deep, so both men were able to crawl out and and ask for help. Both Caleb Fernald and Jake Deschaine are charged with operating under the influence.
“It’s frustrating, we put it out in the media every year to not drink alcohol and operate snowmobiles and every year we investigate more and more crashes where alcohol is a factor,” says Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick estimates 75-80 percent of snowmobile crashes they respond to each winter are alcohol related. The legal limit is the same as driving a car – point zero eight. He didn’t release the blood alcohol level of Fernald or Deschaine. He says the typical penalty is a fine of a few hundred dollars and the loss of a snowmobile registration. He says especially with cold weather, drinking and operating is never a good idea.
Fitzpatrick says, “when it comes down to it you’re needing to survive after say going into open water or becoming stuck on your snowmobile you have a hard time trying to function and hypothermia can set in a lot faster when you’re unable to move around, keep warm, and all that.”
Fitzpatrick adds that these two were not familiar with the area…which is why its always a good idea in general to have a map, or plan out your trip and stick to that plan.