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December 6, 2010

CONTACT:   
Conservation Officer Christopher Egan, Fish and Game Region One Office, Lancaster, NH, 603-788-4850 or 603-271-3361

Snowmobile sunken through thin ice on Back Lake in Pittsburg
A snowmobile went through the ice on Back Lake on December 3; the operator managed to escape the icy waters, was arrested for DWI.

Snowmobile Falls Through Thin Ice; Operator Arrested For DWI

LANCASTER, N.H. -- Just prior to midnight on Friday, December 3, 2010, local fire and EMS personnel, Pittsburg Police Department and a Conservation Officer with the N.H. Fish and Game Department responded to Back Lake in the town of Pittsburg, after a 911 caller had reported a snowmobile had fallen through thin ice, and that the whereabouts of the operator were not known. A short time later, a 911 update indicated that the operator of the snowmobile was located inside a camp at 493 Beach Road. Authorities arrived and identified the man to be Eric G. Chamberland, 32, of Bradford, N.H.

After EMS assessment, it was determined that the operator had not sustained any injury, other than having been cold and wet, and he refused medical treatment. Upon failing standard field sobriety tests, he was arrested by Conservation Officer Chris Egan, and was transported to the Pittsburg Police Department.

Chamberland told authorities that he had ventured out onto the frozen lake on his snowmobile, and had become disoriented due to the snow that was falling moderately at the time. He began slowly circling about 100 feet from the far shoreline of the lake, in an attempt to get his bearings when the machine broke through the 2-3” surface of the ice, and submerged in 10 feet of water.

Several friends watched from the opposite shore as they saw the headlight from Chamberland’s machine point into the air, then disappear. They said that they could hear Chamberland screaming, but could not see him. Some members of the group began walking out onto the thin ice, until one of the men talked them back to shore to call 911.

Chamberland was able to crawl up onto the surface of the ice and get to the shoreline. He walked a short distance to Spooner Road, where he awakened a local resident, who took the man into her home. She wrapped Chamberland in blankets and transported him back to the camp where he was staying on Beach Road.

"This incident should serve as a warning to the public that ice surfaces are not yet thick enough to support the weight of people or vehicles of any type. All persons involved were extremely lucky to have lived through a potentially deadly situation that arose from poor lack of judgement," Egan said.

For more information on safe snowmobiling, visit www.ride.nh.com.

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