Conditions treacherous for recovery of snowmobiler

December 30, 2013

snowmobile recoveryAMBER TWP. — Emergency personnel continued to search for the body of William Green Monday afternoon along the banks of the Pere Marquette River. The 35-year-old Ludington resident presumably drowned in the river Sunday night after his snowmobile went off a 150-foot embankment, about a quarter mile south of the intersection of Gordon and Conrad roads.

Preparing the site for recovery operations took several hours. A path was cleared using equipment and personnel from Mason County Road Commission. Personnel were then called in from Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Ludington Police Dept., Michigan State Police, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Scottville Fire Dept., Branch Fire Dept, Custer Fire Dept., Hamlin Fire Dept. and the West Shore Chapter of American Red Cross.

synowmobile recoverTemperatures are only in the teens today. A cold wind decreased the temperature even more. Combined with the deep embankment and ice on the river, conditions were treacherous for rescuers.

A remote underwater vehicle from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office was being used to search for Green’s body, which went under the ice after his snowmobile crashed into the water. His helmet still laid on the ice, about 20 feet from shore. Sheriff Det. Sgt. Tom Posma said once the body was located fire and police personnel in water rescue suits would recover him. Other equipment being used was a boat from Custer Fire Dept. along with all-terrain vehicles from Branch, Custer and Hamlin fire departments. Dive specialists from Michigan State Police in Lansing were also on the scene.

The crash occurred around 7:15 p.m. Sunday. Green and a companion were snowmobiling in the field. Green was on the lead snowmobile, which went airborne off the embankment. His companion called 911. While emergency personnel were able to recover the snowmobile, they could not safely search for the body with the darkness and other dangerous conditions.

Sheriff Kim Cole said Green was unfamiliar with the area, which was located on the Conrad farm.

This was the county’s first snowmobile fatality of the year and the ninth traffic fatality.

– rsa