Township Fire Protection District responds to 3 snowmobile accidents in one afternoon

Updated 2/22/2021 9:34 AM

The McHenry Township Fire Protection District responded to three snowmobile accidents in the span of three hours Saturday afternoon, fire officials said. Only one of them led to a person being injured.

Two of the calls were for snowmobiles through the ice on the Fox River, and the other one was a snowmobile rollover accident, Battalion Chief Dave Harwood said.


The first accident occurred about 1:15 p.m. in the 1300 block of River Terrace Drive in Johnsburg, Harwood said. Fire crews were called there for two occupants on one snowmobile who had gone through the ice.

Harwood said while the fire protection district was on the way to the area, both people on the snowmobile were able to get themselves out of the water and back on the ice. Two other snowmobiles came and picked the two up.

"And then they took off," Harwood said. "We never made contact with those people. They were gone that quickly."

Johnsburg police and an ambulance went to check the area after the incident.

Three hours later, at 4:15 p.m., the McHenry Township Fire Protection District was called out twice, once to the exact same area in Johnsburg for another call of a snowmobile going through the ice, Harwood said. In this case, when firefighters got to the place, the man had rescued himself and was on an ice shelf.

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However, he was unable to get off the ice because he was surrounded by water on all sides and couldn't get to shore. The man stood there for 15 minutes until an airboat came to get him, Harwood said, adding that he was uninjured.

The second call McHenry Township Fire Protection District received at 4:15 p.m. was to the 2100 block of North Chapel Hill Road in McHenry. One occupant of a snowmobile was injured when the vehicle rolled over. The man was taken to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Harwood said.

An abundance of snowmobiles were out and about because of the Polar Bares Snowmobile Club's radar Run taking place Saturday in Johnsburg, Harwood said, adding he didn't know if the snowmobiles involved in the accidents were part of the event or if they just happened to be in the area.

The Polar Bares Snowmobile Club had checked the ice and were using a safe area for the event, Harwood said. If the ice was over a foot thick where they were, Harwood said, the Polar Bares went out and plowed it with a pickup truck.


But Harwood stressed that anyone going snowmobiling needs to be careful, stay on marks and snowmobile trails, and make sure they're familiar with their surroundings. If not, he said, they need to slow down.

"You want to avoid areas that have moving water underneath it," Harwood said. "The river is very unpredictable."

The extreme cold the McHenry County area has recently seen allowed the areas of non-moving water to get very thick, Harwood said.

"Yesterday, a good portion of the river in McHenry was covered in ice," Harwood said. "Now, after today with the sun being out, there are several areas that are open in the center now with no ice. It just changes that quickly."

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