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Cars, Kayaks, Snowmobiles: The False Safety of Vehicles



Three very preventable outdoor deaths; three very important lessons.

There’s something about being inside a man-made vehicle that makes us feel safe, and for good reason. There’s really nothing like an internal combustion engine, and a ton of steel and tempered glass to give you a sense of security. But that layer of safety is only as thick as the car door, only as strong as a tire’s sidewall, and only as smart as the human behind the wheel. Today, we’re highlighting three recent deaths in the outdoors … all of which could have been prevented.

Monday, March 6: Snow Crash

A 42-year-old Wisconsin man was killed Thursday morning when the snowmobile he was operating crashed into an approaching trail groomer. Todd Lisowe, of New Holstein, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which was located south of Crystal Falls.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers said Lisowe was the first rider traveling south with three other Wisconsin snowmobilers between U.S. Highway 2 and Stager Lake Road. The riders were headed from Big Bay in Marquette County to Pembine, Wisconsin. Lisowe collided with a trail groomer that was headed north, actively grooming the trail. The groomer was being operated by the Chippewa Sno-Kats Snowmobile Club of Crystal Falls.

Neither the groomer operator nor a passenger in the vehicle was injured in the collision.

Conservation officers said excessive speed is believed to be the cause of the fatal crash. No alcohol or drug use is suspected. The weather was clear with no visibility concerns. Speed is the primary cause of fatal and serious snowmobile injury accidents in Michigan. Last winter, there were a total of 13 snowmobiling fatalities in Michigan and 12 during the winter of 2020-2021.

Lesson: Conservation officers urge snowmobilers to Ride Right, by riding on the right side of the trail, riding sober and at a safe speed appropriate for weather conditions and rider abilities. Anticipate and watch out for trail groomers.

Tuesday, March 7: High Water

The body of a Bryant man was recovered in flood waters late this morning in rural Adams County. At approximately 5:44 a.m., responders were dispatched to the area of County Road 300 West just north of 850 South.

Upon arrival, responders located an unoccupied Chevy Express van in the flood water just north of the Wabash River. The van had driven around a swing gate with signs stating the road was closed due to high water. At approximately 11:05 a.m., the body of Anthony Gors, 55, of Bryant, was recovered from the water a short distance from the van. The incident is still under investigation.

Lesson: Never drive into flood waters, even if you can see the road surface, and even if they don’t appear to be in motion. It only takes a few inches of floodwater to sweep a one-ton car off a road. Furthermore, it’s not the water itself you need to fear. It’s what’s IN the water, such as invisible downed trees and other drowning hazards.

Tuesday, August 2: Life Vest

Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating a kayaking Sunday night that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old Dyer man and left a 54-year-old Dyer woman in critical condition. At approximately 8:15 p.m., the Lake County 911 Center received a call for help after witnesses saw two kayakers on Robinson Lake tip over and begin struggling in the water about 200 feet from shore.

As the kayakers struggled, one witness entered the water to rescue them. During that attempt, both kayakers went under the surface of the water. The witness located the female and swam her back to shore with the help of a Hobart police officer who arrived on scene. The woman was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

Additional agencies arrived, and divers from the Lake County Dive Team entered the water to search for the male. At approximately 9:08 p.m., his body was recovered by a Crown Point Fire Department diver. Initial investigation revealed that both kayakers had wearable life jackets with them but were not wearing them at the time of the incident.

Lesson: They call it a “life vest” for a reason! Even if you are a strong swimmer, it’s easy to get tumbled around in the current or sucked underwater, depending on the condition of the body of water you’re in. Wear your life vest while kayaking, no matter what.

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