Deteriorating ice factored into snowmobile crash

-Messenger photo by Adri Sietstra
First responders stage near the scene of a snowmobile accident Monday afternoon northwest of Stratford.

STRATFORD — The man injured in a snowmobile accident Monday hit a dip while riding at the convergence of the Boone and Des Moines rivers near Stratford.

Conservation Officer Bill Spece, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said the victim, who has not been publicly identified, encountered deteriorating ice conditions while he was snowmobiling with his son Monday around 4:52 p.m.

The ice conditions, combined with the river levels dropping over the winter, created a dip in the ice between two sand bars.

“The individual was operating a snowmobile, he said between 60 and 65 miles per hour, when he hit it,” Spece said. “And the sun was in his eyes because he didn’t see the dip.”

The man was traveling upstream on the Des Moines River when the accident happened.

It took place just north of the Boone River bridge on Shiloh Road near the Boone Forks Wildlife Management Area.

Spece said the man was airlifted from the scene by the UnityPoint Health — Life Flight helicopter, which arrived on scene around 5:45 p.m.

He was transported to an undisclosed hospital.

The man’s injuries are not known. Spece said he has called the man and his family to get an update, but has not heard back from them.

Spece added the man was the only one injured.

“His son was on a different snowmobile and was further out on the main channel of the river,” he said. “And the dip wasn’t there because that ice on the center is settled.”

Muddy conditions made the rescue operation a challenge, according to Stratford Fire Chief Dan Ostrem.

“It was a challenge getting back to him because it was basically on the river,” he said. “We had to use four-wheel drives and ATVs to get down to the access to him and then eventually we figured out that he was injured severely enough that he needed a helicopter — that the ambulance wasn’t going to be enough.”

One of the man’s companions assisted first responders by taking them from a road to the injured man across a field.

“He had two friends with him. One went to get the truck and the other one stayed with him and got help. Then that individual helped shuttle EMTs down until we could coordinate getting people down in there, so he was very helpful too,” Ostrem said.

Medical personnel from Van Diest Medical Center in Webster City grabbed equipment out of the ambulance they arrived in and were transported across the field in a truck because they were unable to drive the ambulance across the field.

Ostrem described the man’s injuries as severe.

Stratford Fire and Rescue, the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, Dayton Police, Van Diest Medical Center, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources responded to the scene.