High snowbanks linked to snowmobile crash near Long Lake

High snowbanks contribute to snowmobile crash in Aroostook County. Mark Sutherland, 48, from Sterling, Massachusetts failed to stop his snowmobile before entering a plowed, private road at the intersection of connecting trail 96 and East Road at around 3:30 Monday afternoon. Game wardens feel that overgrown tree limbs and high snowbanks on the trail obscured a stop sign which was intended to stop snowmobile traffic before entering the plowed road.

According to his riding partner who witnessed the crash, Sutherland was not familiar with the trail or intersection. As Sutherland entered onto East Road, William Laplante, 68, of T17 R3 WELS, was traveling west through the same intersection in his pickup truck. Sutherland struck the front grill and bumper as well as the plow frame of the truck. The impact was significant enough to spin the truck completely around. Sutherland suffered a broken leg, possible pelvis injuries, possible broken ribs, and his helmet was broken. Van Buren Ambulance transported Sutherland to CARY Medical Center in Caribou for treatment. Laplante was not injured in the crash.

Since the crash, game wardens have worked with Gateway Snowmobile Club who maintains the portion of trail where the crash took place. The club has been very responsive to this crash and is currently working to make the intersection more visible and clearly marked. According to Game Warden Adrian Marquis, current snow depths are unusually high for this time of year and have made trail intersections dangerous in the area. Snowmobilers are urged to use extreme caution when intersecting and crossing roadways. Attached crash photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service.