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Officials still searching for missing snowmobiler

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Associated Press and Gazette Staff
December 10, 2007
— One person died and another was missing after their snowmobile fell through the ice of the Rock River near Johnson Creek.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said a call received at 6:22 p.m. Saturday told of two people on a snowmobile falling through the ice in the area of N5753 County N in Jefferson County.


The rescue squad recovered a woman who was taken to Watertown Hospital and later pronounced dead. The second person had not been found as of Sunday.


The names were not released.


The Rock County Sheriff’s Department dive and water rescue team was dispatched this morning to assist with the search.


Local officials and snowmobiling enthusiasts say they’re leery about ice safety year-round, not just early in the season.


“The problem is that there’s pockets on the ice, especially where there’s a current,” said Lt. Gary Groelle of the Rock County Sheriff’s Department. “It could be 12 inches deep, then 6 inches deep, then 3 inches deep.”


Levi Olson, the trail boss for the Rock County Alliance of Snowmobile Clubs, said he doesn’t encourage anybody to go out on the lakes and especially not at this time of the year.


“We haven’t had enough cold weather to have a real thick ice pack,” Olson said.


The recent snowfalls haven’t helped.


On its Web site, the Wisconsin DNR notes, “Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevents thick strong ice from forming.”


Even after the ice pack has improved, snowmobilers should exercise extreme caution.


“Myself, I very rarely go on the lakes,” Olson said.


Elsewhere in Wisconsin, a Chippewa County snowmobiler was found dead in Larrabee Lake after going through the ice, authorities said.


The sheriff’s department said Marlon J. Przybylla, 43, of Bloomer was pronounced dead at 11:18 p.m. Friday after being taken to Luther Hospital in Eau Claire.


He was at the Salisbury Resort on Highway 40 around 3:15 p.m. Friday but never arrived at the place where he was going, sheriff’s officials said.


The sheriff’s department and the New Auburn Fire Department responded to a call at 5:53 p.m. of a snowmobiler in the ice at the Larrabee Lodge in the town of Sampson.


The snowmobile and Przybylla were found in about 7 feet of water.


In an accident Wednesday in Chippewa County, a Boyd man died when his all-terrain vehicle fell through ice in the town of Colburn.


Local trail conditions mixed

Southcentral Wisconsin snowmobile trails are in mixed conditions, said Levi Olson, trail boss for the Rock County Alliance of Snowmobile Clubs.


The alliance, which is made up of nine local clubs, helps with the upkeep the local trails.


“We had three groomers out over the weekend,” Olson said. “The trails are in fair to good condition.”


Rock County has more than 200 miles of snowmobile trails.


The trails in Walworth County haven’t been opened yet, and only some of the trails in Dane County are open, Olson said.


“People should pay attention to the trail closed signs,” Olson added. “You can get a ticket for riding on closed trails.”



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