Speed has been the common denominator in several snowmobile fatalities that have occurred in Manitoba over the last two months.
In all, there have been six deaths relating to snowmobile accidents since Jan. 20, coinciding with a significant increase in snowfall across the province.
There were two fatalities this past weekend alone.
On March 11, a 29-year-old male from Oakview appeared to have driven over the edge of a ravine bank in the RM of Riverdale, about 15 kilometres west of Rivers, dropping 20 metres and landing in the frozen Little Saskatchewan River. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
On March 10, a 33-year-old Winnipeg man died in a snowmobile crash northeast of the city. Powerview RCMP said the man was driving his snowmobile on Snoman Trail #220, about 45 kilometres north of Broadlands Road in the RM of Alexander. It appears he lost control of the machine, veered off the trail and hit a tree.
RCMP spokesman Paul Manaigre said there were no fatalities until Jan. 20, in part, because of the lack of snow. There were a total of six deaths involving snowmobiles last winter.
Although the fatalities this winter remain the same to date as last year, Manaigre noted that the province is averaging almost one a week since late January.
"The biggest issue is speed and lack of knowing the terrain you're driving on," he said.
Yvonne Rideout, executive director of Snoman (Snowmobilers of Manitoba), agreed that speed continues to be the root of many deaths.
Rideout said her organization is currently developing a poster campaign — slated to begin next winter — with the slogan, "Speed does not always take you home."
"And we're going to have a very graphic poster," she added, noting it will include an image of a snowmobile accident and a family dinner where one seat is left empty.
Randy Turner has spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he’s got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.