THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Area DNR Wardens Saved Three Snowmobilers Feb. 2
Issue Date: February 21, 2019
A man who crashed his snowmobile on a trail near Boat Landing 14 off Parkway Road west of Crivitz is alive, thanks to DNR Wardens Tim Werner and Dale Romback. The two wardens noticed a faint light that seemed to be pointed toward the sky while on a routine weekend night patrol in the woods near Johnson Falls Flowage on Saturday, Feb. 2.
They investigated and found that a snowmobile had struck a post and crashed. The operator was unconscious with severe head wounds. The snowmobile had flipped over with its headlight pointed at the sky. The wardens called Twin Bridge Rescue Squad and provided emergency treatment. The first rescue squad vehicle got stuck in the snow, after which the wardens transported the unconscious man in the bed of their pickup truck to Parkway Road to meet a second ambulance, which rushed the injured man to Bay Area Medical Center (BAMC).
The BAMC emergency room doctor reportedly told the wardens the snowmobile operator would have died without their fast and trained intervention.
Doctors at BAMC determined that the man was intoxicated and he was issued a ticket for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated, which carries a $642 penalty but does not count against the operator's driver's license.
Werner declined to identify the man due to medical privacy laws, but said he has been told the man is expected to make a full recovery, but was kept in the hospital at least overnight.
Warner has an office at Gov. Thompson State Park but is not affiliated with the park operation. He is the warden for the western portion of Marinette County, while Romback, who works out of the Wausaukee DNR office, has primary responsibility for the eastern half of the county.
In Shawano County, also on Saturday, Feb. 2, two other snowmobilers were saved from the icy waters of Shawano Lake by DNR Warden Clark Delzer in response to a 911 call reporting a snowmobiler in the water. The caller said it looked like another snowmobiler was coming to help, but was wrong. The second snowmobiler, unaware of any problem, was unknowingly aimed for the same 100 yards of open water that surprised that first sled operator. It was an extremely dark and foggy night.
When Delzer arrived at the lake he saw a flashing light that turned out to be the person who had made the 911 call. Delzer used his snowmobile to get to the area where he had seen the light and spotted a pressure crack that had opened about 100 yards of water. The first snowmobiler had been in the water for about 20 minutes.
Delzer utilized his personal flotation device (life jacket) and positioned himself to toss the rope to the man. The man managed to follow Delzer's directions to grab and hold the rope, even though his hands were severely cramping as the hypothermia was setting. Delzer pulled the man to the edge of the water and, because the man could no longer use his hands, Delzer grabbed the man's jacket to drag him onto the ice.
While Delzer twas transporting the man across the lake ice to shore for medical treatment, word came that a second snowmobiler - the one previously assumed to be coming to help - had gone into the same open water. Delzer delivered the first man to emergency medical personnel, did a quick reverse and returned to the open water. There, he found the second man had pulled himself out of the water and was on the ice. Delzer quickly got this him back to shore and secured medical care. Again, names of the snowmobile operators involved were not released by the DNR.
Wardens Werner, Romback and Delzer are all part of the Peshtigo Warden Team in Wisconsin's northeast region. They are urging all snowmobilers to enjoy the season, but wait until they are done riding to enjoy alcoholic beverages. They also advise snowmobile operators to keep speed in check and know trail and ice conditions. Werner said by law, maximum speed on a snowmobile is 55 mph at night, and the blood alcohol limit is .08, the same as in a car. Testing higher than .08 results in an OWI citation. Drivers of off-road recreational vehicles, including snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs, are advised check with the local fishing club, snowmobile club, outfitters or bait shops for ice conditions if crossing a water body is in their plans.
Werner said trail conditions in Marinette County are excellent this year and there are many snowmobiles on the trails. Fortunately, there have been no fatal snowmobile accidents in Marinette County this year, but there were two in neighboring Forest County on Saturday, Feb. 9. The DNR website reports there have been 11 fatal snowmobile accidents in Wisconsin so far this year.
Werner repeated his advice to snowmobile enthusiasts to "slow down, obey the stop signs, and don't drink and ride."
Werner said he and the other DNR wardens in this area work closely with Marinette County Recreation Officer Zach Albrecht and everyone in Marinette County Sheriff's Department.