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Conservation Officer Emphasizes Snowmobile Safety After Deadly Crash

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Record high snow totals mean conditions are ideal for snowmobiling right now, but that also means crashes are happening and some of them are fatal.

Jeremy Michael Pumper, 42 and Crystal Olson, 33, were killed while snowmobiling in Blakeley Township Sunday afternoon.

Investigators say the pair were together on a snowmobile when they crashed into a pole.

Pumper is remembered as a horse enthusiast and Olson as a devoted mother.

This season, seven people have died on snowmobiles in Minnesota, 15 in Wisconsin.

Conservation Officer Mike Lerchen maneuvers his territory on a sled.

"More chances for more accidents when there's a lot of people out riding with this great conditions that we're having," Lerchen said. "A lot of times these machines are designed to go fast in a short distance, so it's easy to get going on a trail and if you've got a tight trail, it's easy to go off trail and hit an obstacle."

Snow covering signs, stumps and slush has made these situations extra dicey this year. Alcohol rules are also tighter this year after 8-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. was killed by a drunk snowmobiler last year.

"Drinking and snowmobiling, it just doesn't mix. You've got people going to the bar, then they are jumping across the lake and there's people in ice houses, so that's a big reason why you don't want to see that," Lerchen said.

It's not clear if alcohol was involved in Sunday's crash. What is clear is the great level of loss. The Scott County Sheriff's Office says they are still investigating the crash with the help of Highway Patrol.

Lerchen says a major cause of many accidents is speed. He says to keep speed under 50 miles per hour.

He also suggests a DNR course on snowmobiling.

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