First-time snowmobiler crashes S. of Elk Lake

Rescuers aid Bend 16-year-old after crash into tree

BEND, Ore. - A 16-year-old Bend girl on her first snowmobile ride crashed into a tree south of Elk Lake Sunday afternoon, prompting a rescue effort that sent her to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Deschutes County sheriff's deputies said.

The Sheriff's Search and Rescue unit was dispatched shortly after 3 p.m. to the reported accident on Trail 2, south of Elk Lake and east of Deschutes Bridge on South Century Drive, said Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant SAR coordinator.

The reporting party, Al Nelson, 57, of Bend, said he was in a group of four riders when the crash occurred.

A U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer and Oregon State Police game trooper tried to reach the scene in a 4-by-4 patrol vehicle without success, unable to drive to the area, Whitcomb said.

Three other Forest Service officers responded from Mt. Bachelor, two of them heading out on snowmobiles from River Summit Drive's intersection with the trail. They arrived about 30 minutes later, shortly before 5 p.m.

Three SAR members also headed to River Summit Drive, deploying two snowmobiles, one pulling an ambu-sled, and arrived at the crash scene around 5:30 p.m.

Whitcomb said an investigation found the crash was caused by the rider's lack of experience. The group had begun their trip at Wanoga Sno-Park and headed south on Trail 5 by Elk Lake.

After turning east onto Trail 2, the teen's snowmobile began going slightly off the trail and encountered deeper, softer snow, the deputy said.

While going about 25 mph, it appeared the operator panicked and applied the throttle, instead of breaking to slow down. All of the riders were wearing helmets, Whitcomb said.

The girl, whose name was not released, was evaluated, stabilized and brought back to the River Summit Drive staging area, where she was transferred to Sunriver Fire medics shortly before 7 p.m. They took her to St. Charles Bend for treatment.

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