Make sure to give someone your trip plan before going out on a snowmobile ride. Wear a helmet, and drive at a speed that allows you to stop if you encounter a rock, open water, tree, ice ridge or another person.

Those are recommendations John MacDonald, game warden corporal for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, offered in the wake of a snowmobile crash Saturday that claimed the life of Bryan Sylvester, 57, of Long Pond. It was the first snowmobile fatality of the season in Maine.

Sylvester was killed when he was ejected from his snowmobile onto an uneven ice surface about a mile and a half from his home near the confluence of Parlin Stream, according to MacDonald. He was not wearing a helmet.

He had left his Long Pond Road home near Jackman around 2 p.m. Saturday, but the Bureau of Warden Service did not get a call until about 6 p.m. Wardens immediately searched for Sylvester and found his body at 7:45 p.m.

MacDonald said Monday in a telephone interview that officials are trying to determine what time Sylvester died — whether he drove directly to the spot where he was found or had traveled to other areas beforehand. Often, friends and family members search for a snowmobiler before notifying authorities, he said.

It gets dark by 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m., and Sylvester’s crash possibly occurred in darkness, he said.

The ridge Sylvester’s 2008 Ski Doo MXZ 600 struck was formed by ice having broken up and refrozen and developed into large ice chunks, according to MacDonald.

“It was very, very uneven, and some of it was probably a foot or two tall, jagged ice pieces,” he said.

He said officials believe Sylvester was driving at a fairly high rate of speed before the crash occurred. They did not know by Monday if alcohol was a factor.

Asked what tips he might recommend for safe snowmobiling, MacDonald said officials do not encourage snowmobilers to venture out by themselves for a variety of reasons, including that they could encounter mechanical or physical issues.

But officials are realistic and understand people do travel alone, and it is important they leave a trip plan with someone, including the times of departure and return, according to MacDonald.

Wearing a helmet and driving at a speed that enables one to stop if he or she encounters an obstacle also is important, he said.

“I think people are still of the mindset that this won’t happen to me, and they don’t take that step,” he said.

He said that speed is the top contributing factor to fatalities.

“That’s what we see most of the time — people driving too fast,” he said.

Asked where a person who becomes injured in the area would be taken, he said it would depend on the extent of injuries, but the closest hospitals are in Greenville and Skowhegan.

Sylvester was employed by the state Department of Transportation. His body was taken to Giberson Funeral Home in Madison after the crash. Jackman Fire and Ambulance also responded to the scene Saturday.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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