For the third time this month, a man lost his life in a tragic snowmobiling accident in Upstate New York.

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Tragedy in Stanwix

Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino, WIBX/TSM
Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino, WIBX/TSM

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office is investigating an accident that claimed the life of a Rome man over the weekend.

Authorities say 55-year-old Christian Kukowski was sledding on a path near State Route 69 when he somehow lost control of his vehicle when crossing John Street. According to police, Kukowski went down a ditch and was thrown from his spinning vehicle, ultimately striking a utility pole.His vehicle crashed into a concrete marker.

Authorities say a homeowner saw Kukowski lying unresponsive next to the snowmobile the following morning and called for help. Police pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

Following an investigation, authorities determined the fatal accident happened around 8:30 on Saturday night. They also believe Kukowski had been riding alone.

The investigation is ongoing, but a preliminary theory suggests Kukowski was possibly caught up in one of the snow squalls that affected the area around that time on Saturday night. Police are looking into factors such as speed and limited visibility as possible causes for the fatal accident.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is urged to contact the Oneida County Sheriff's Office at 315-765-2737.

Third Reported Fatality This Month

Upstate New York has witnessed three snowmobiling-related deaths in February.  The first incident was reported on February 1 in the town of Webb, where a New Jersey man died in an early morning crash on Trail 5 between Rondaxe Road and State Route 28.

Town of Webb Police Chief Ron Johnston identified the victim as 56-year-old Kelly Rozansky, and said he lost control of his Ski-Doo snowmobile and crashed into a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Read More: Man Tragically Dies in Upstate New York Snowmobiling Accident

About a week later, a 33-year-old man from Pittsfield, MA, died in Lewis County. Police identified the victim as Richard Mangiardi Jr., and say he failed to negotiate a curve when riding on a path with his family in the town of Montague.


Mangiardi's Arctic Cat snowmobile struck a tree, leading to him suffering a traumatic head injury. He was also pronounced dead at the scene by authorities.

Police are urging snowmobilers to be aware of posted speed limits and to be aware of their surroundings at all time.

Staying Safe on the Trails

Heather Sunderland, flickr
Heather Sunderland, flickr

The New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is reminding snowmobilers to exercise caution when out on the trails.

In a recently released guidebook detailing the rules and safety regulations, the department advised:

Snowmobiles may not be operated in any unsafe or reckless manner, or in any way that harasses other people or wildlife. It is UNLAWFUL to operate a snowmobile:
1. at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent under the surrounding conditions, or at a speed greater than 55 mph
2. in any careless, reckless, or negligent manner
3. while the operator is intoxicated
4. without the required lights
5. on the tracks of an operating railroad
6. in any tree nursery or planting in a manner that damages growing stock
7. on private property without the consent of the owner
8. towing a sleigh or toboggan except with a rigid tow bar
9. in any way that the operator fails to yield to an emergency vehicle approaching from any direction
10. in any way that fails to comply with a lawful order from a police officer
11. on a frozen body of water within one hundred feet of a skater, ice fisherman, ice fishing house, or other person not on a snowmobile except at the minimum speed required to
maintain forward motion
12. within one hundred feet of a dwelling between 12 midnight and 6 AM at a speed greater than the minimum speed required to maintain forward motion.

The snowmobiling season in New York typically lasts from December until March, when warmer, spring-like weather begins melting away the snow and ice.

Photo Credit - Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Photo Credit - Jamie Squire/Getty Images

This report will be updated should more information become available.

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