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

Richard Dumont, 52, of North Attleborough, was riding a Polaris 550 toward the outlet of the lake around 2:50 p.m. when it broke through, according to a statement from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

It was the second snowmobile-related fatality of the season.

Members of the Oakland Fire Department used a rescue sled to pull Dumont from the water and he was taken by ambulance to Inland Hospital in Waterville, where he was pronounced dead.

Oakland firefighters and police were assisted by Waterville, Belgrade and Maine State Police, as well as the wildlife department.

The incident comes after Cpl. John MacDonald, public information officer for the Maine Warden Service, talked about safety at a news conference announcing at 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. “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.


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