CO Kevin Jordan: (603) 788-3164
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
Maj. Tim Acerno, OHRV Program Coordinator: (603) 271-3129
December 9, 2003

Hit-and-run Snowmobile Operator Sentenced

CONCORD, N.H. -- Dennis Lancey, of Berlin, the operator of a snowmachine that hit and seriously injured Maine sled dog musher Stephen Hessert in February of 2003, has been sentenced by the Coos County Superior Court to serve a year in the House of Corrections and undergo alcohol and drug assessments. He must also pay Steven Hessert $2,000 in personal property damages. Lancey was taken back into custody on December 8 to begin serving his sentence. After his release, he will be on probation for a year and his right to operate an OHRV will be suspended for two years. In November, Lancey pled guilty to the Class B Felony charge of Conduct After An Accident.

Last February, Stephen Hessert and his 16-dog sled team were on a 70-mile tune-up run for an upcoming race. Ten miles up the Success Pond Trail near Berlin, he was struck from behind by Lancey, who then left the scene. Hessert was found lying on the trail by a group of snowmobilers from Berlin about an hour after he was hit. Seriously injured, Hessert underwent many hours of surgery on his legs and is still recovering from the incident. Lancey was arrested in March, three weeks after the incident and subsequent investigation.

"This was a terrible accident, and completely preventable," says Conservation Officer Kevin Jordan, the lead investigator on the case for Fish and Game. The privilege of snowmobiling comes with rules and responsibilities regarding safety, operation, courtesy and the environment, says Jordan, including sharing the trail and operating within safe, reasonable speed limits.

The majority of snowmobilers are responsible members of the community, Jordan says. If trail users do see an OHRV operator riding irresponsibly, they should try to get a decal number and report it to Fish and Game at (603) 271-3361. If an injured person is ever encountered on the trail, your immediate responsibility is to assist the injured person and report the incident.

In light of this tragic event, Jordan encourages all snowmobilers to review the Safe Riders Pledge:

  • I will never drink while operating a snowmobile.
  • I will drive within the limits of my machine and my own abilities.
  • I will obey the rules and laws of the area.
  • I will be careful when crossing roads and always cross at a right angle to traffic.
  • I will keep my machine in top shape and follow a pre-op check before each ride.
  • I will wear appropriate clothing, including gloves, boots and a helmet with a visor.
  • I will let family and friends know my planned route, my destination and my expected arrival time.
  • I will treat the outdoors with respect. I will not litter or damage trees or other vegetation.
  • I will respect other people's property and rights and lend a hand when I see someone in need.
  • I will not snowmobile where prohibited.

Snowmobile education courses are offered by Fish and Game; click here for a class schedule.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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Concord, NH 03301

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