OAKLAND — A Massachusetts man died Saturday after the snowmobile he was riding broke through ice near the Oakland boat landing on Messalonskee Lake, authorities said.

Richard Dumont, 52, of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, was riding a friend and business partner’s Polaris 550 snowmobile toward the outlet of the lake, also known as Snow Pond, when the snowmobile plunged into the frigid water, according to a news release from the Maine Warden Service.

People who witnesses the incident called 911 about 2:50 p.m., prompting a response by the Oakland Fire Department, Oakland Police Department, Maine State Police and the Maine Warden Service. The Oakland Police Department, as well as Waterville police, took snowmobiles to the scene to investigate the area on the lake where the accident occurred, and authorities were still at the scene around 4 p.m.

Fire department crews reached Dumont with an ice rescue sled and pulled him from the water, according to the release.

Emergency responders with Delta Ambulance tried to revive Dumont and he was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville, where he was pronounced dead.

The Maine Warden Service said in its release that it will continue to investigate the fatal snowmobile accident.

“This is a tragic reminder that Maine’s lakes and ponds vary widely in ice thickness and safety for snowmobilers and others who recreate on the ice,” the warden service said in its release. “Game wardens are asking that everyone exercise extreme caution on any water body this winter season. This is Maine’s second snowmobile related fatality this season.”

The incident comes after Cpl. John MacDonald, public information officer for the Maine Warden Service, talked about safety at a news conference announcing the beginning of Maine’s snowmobile season on Dec. 29.

“Our greatest fear from a search-and-rescue standpoint is heavy snow obscuring the ice and what the condition of the ice might be underneath (the snow),” he said at that news conference. “We’ve had good weather for this time of year and the ice has done pretty well, but the snow is going to obscure just how safe some of the ice might be.”

Ed Pearl, a former vice president of Friends of Messalonskee, said it’s not too common to see people snowmobiling near the area of the boat launch, which is the north bay of the lake.

“Typically they stay away from it, if they know the lake,” he said. “Most of us who are on the lake don’t trust it.”

While the weather might get cold, Pearl said the north bay area freezes poorly because of the dams. The stream beneath the ice is constantly moving at 3 mph, he said, which can erode the ice.

Incidents like this happen every four years or so, he said, and it’s been at least 15 years since someone died in the area from falling through ice.

During the period of Nov. 1, 2015, to April 10, 2016, game wardens responded to 182 reports of snowmobile-related incidents, including 12 search-and-rescue incidents.

General guidelines on ice safety call for waiting until a body of water has at least 4 inches of ice to walk on it, and 6 to 8 inches to snowmobile or drive an all-terrain vehicle on it.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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