Dangers of Snowmobiling on the Sheyenne

By  | 

Law enforcement wants you to know that driving your snowmobile in city limits is against the law, including the river where at this time of year, it’s also dangerous. There might be snow on the ground and ice on the water, but we’re not in the grip of winter yet. Rescue crews have not been able to find 34-year-old Cole Schwindt of Moorhead. His snowmobile, helmet and snowboots were recovered along a stretch of the river near 12th Avenue North.

Ice and snow line the banks of the Sheyenne this time of year. The strong current and deep holes in the riverbed mean ice forms unevenly across the surface. But a potential hundred dollar find and the threat of falling into frigid water are not stopping snowmobilers.

"I hear the sounds for the snowmobiles usually in the winter, always we hear it because we see so many people play in this area,” said nearby resident Ali Alkaabi.

It’s a fact echoed by others who live along the waterway. Valley News Live talked with several neighbors, all who said people can constantly be found near the water and the cops are called frequently.

"It’s that time of year where everyone's itching to get out. We haven't had as much snow as some of the people that do this sport would like, so they're going to try to find ways that they can do it,” explained Detective Tim Runcorn with West Fargo Police.

Valley News Live also spoke with several members of Snowmobile North Dakota, a statewide group at the forefront of the sport’s safety. They explained that snowmobiling on the Sheyenne is a dangerous game of Russian roulette, especially at this time of year. They also explained that riding at night comes with its own set of challenges: it’s very easy to outride your headlights. And now a family is left wondering.

"We know what a strain it is on the family right now. From all standpoints of rescue police and fire we want to help this family get some closure on this as well,” said Runcorn.

With warmer weather forecast over the next few days, the sun’s ray may only decrease the ice thickness and increase the dangers.

Crews say they will resume the search for Cole Schwindt Friday morning.