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Two men killed in separate Lewis County snowmobile accidents

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Two men were killed in separate snowmobile accidents that occurred within about 14 hours of each other in Lewis County over the weekend.

In the first one, a Canastota man died about 12:30 p.m. Saturday on snow trail C4A, south of Kraeger Road in the town of West Turin, state police said. In the other accident, a Berkshire man died when he was out riding with a friend at about 2:36 a.m. Sunday in the town of Pinckney, Lewis County Sheriff investigators said.

In that accident, Daniel M. Leonard, 34, Berkshire, Tioga County, was operating his 2009 Polaris Dragon SP 800 cc on Trail C5, when he failed to negotiate a curve, Lewis County Sheriff investigators said.

The snowmobile left the trail — also known as Mile Strip Access Road — at a crest of a hill before Mr. Leonard was ejected from the sled and he struck a tree, Sgt. Ryan J. Lehman said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr. Leonard was operating the snowmobile next to a friend’s sled when it left the side of the trail, Sgt. Lehman said. The unidentified friend will not be ticketed, since Mr. Leonard was the driver who had violated a state law against riding side-by-side with another sled on a trail, he added.

“They just were out riding,” Sgt. Lehman said, adding they were headed back to their camp in Redfield to explain why they were on the trail at that time of the morning.

Sgt. Lehman said snow conditions did not seem to play a role in the accident, even though some parts of the trail had an icy base. Investigators were still trying to figure out Sunday whether Mr. Leonard was an experienced snowmobiler.

In the first accident, Edward Kohles, 56, of Canastota, was thrown off his sled about 12:30 p.m. and was hit by an oncoming snowmobile heading in the opposite direction, state police said. The driver of the other snowmobile was out riding with another party of snowmobilers, state police said.

State police are continuing their investigation. No other details were available.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, Constableville Ambulance and Lewis County Coroner’s Office assisted at the scene. Mr. Kohles was also pronounced dead at the scene.

Sgt. Lehman said that he did not know whether Lewis County ever had two fatal snowmobile accidents within a 24-hour period before.

With the lack of snow much of the winter, he noted that it has not been a good season for snowmobiling in the county, which is known for the winter sport and trails.

“We’re one of the areas of the state that has marginal snow,” he said.

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