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Snow helps and hinders Snirt Run

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LOWVILLE — Lingering snow helped keep speeds down, but also prompted property damage complaints and caused well over 100 people to become stranded and need rescue at the 10th annual Snirt Run in Lewis County over the weekend.

“Some roads were impassable,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael K. Leviker said. Seasonal snow-covered roads were especially tough on the ATVs.

ATV drivers left the roadway, using fields or adjacent tracts of land to avoid the snow. However, after the volume of vehicles passed over the land, it too became impassable.

When the sun went down, calls for assistance began.

“We had calls from about 8 p.m. to 1:30 in the morning,” Mr. Leviker said.

About 75 to 100 people were stranded on Flat Rock Road between the town of Martinsburg and the town of Montague. An additional 50 to 75 people were stuck on North Road in Highmarket.

A messy area on Houseville Gulf Road, which spans the towns of Turin and Martinsburg, caused more vehicles to be stranded.

“We had a dozen or so people stuck there,” Mr. Leviker said.

Off-road rescue vehicles were used from Lewis County Emergency Management, Croghan Volunteer Fire Department and Justin N. Schweinsberg, owner of Unlimited Collision and Customs, Lyons Falls. The use of several snowmobiles came from the donation of Gordon J. Yancey, owner of Flat Rock Inn, Lowville. Additional aid was provided by state police and state forest rangers and equipment and manpower came from area fire departments.

Of those stranded, two people required medical treatment. An unidentified 40-year-old man and an unrelated boy, 6, were taken to Lewis County General Hospital for treatment of hypothermia. Both were treated and released.

Mr. Leviker credited preplanning with law enforcement agencies for addressing all issues throughout the day.

“We were strategically placed throughout the county,” he said. “Our rescue equipment was deployed at various locations.”

The snow also factored into reported incidents of property damage. Minor damage was reported near the intersection of Tabolt and Ward roads in the town of Turin. In a farmer’s field off Borkowski Road in the town of Martinsburg, a significant amount of damage was done.

“There were several acres of alfalfa that were already planted for the season,” Mr. Leviker said. When ATV riders could not pass on the road, they entered the field. Operators did not take the shortest path, according to Mr. Leviker; instead, they drove throughout the field, destroying a large area of vegetation and creating ruts.

Though not legal for registration, side-by-side utility vehicles, known as UTVs, were operated at the Snirt Run. It is unclear whether any tickets were issued for operating UTVs over the weekend. County deputies did issue tickets for operation of vehicles on closed roads and for unregistered ATVs.

Tickets also were issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to drivers of vehicles that entered state land.

An ATV accident at 2:29 p.m. Saturday on Gardner Road in the town of Martinsburg sent a Lowville woman to the hospital.

Lewis County sheriff’s deputies said Tammy A. Gingerich, 46, was a passenger on a westbound ATV driven by Paul T. Taylor Jr., 32, Lowville.

Mr. Taylor was passing a group of ATVs when the lead driver, Bryan C. Brady, 29, Davidsonville, Md., began making a left-hand turn onto Borkowski Road without signaling, and Mr. Taylor hit the left side of his machine.

The impact knocked Mr. Brady and his passenger, Laura Elliott, also of Davidsonville, off the machine, while Mr. Taylor’s ATV rolled several times, ejecting both riders.

Ms. Gingerich was taken by Lewis County Search and Rescue to Lewis County General Hospital for treatment of a possible concussion.

Mr. Brady was charged with failure to reduce speed for an intersection and failure to signal, answerable in Martinsburg Town Court.

New York State Park Police charged Jody J. Speir, 37, Troy, after he allegedly failed to keep right while operating his 2009 Kawasaki ATV on Sears Pond Road in the town of Montague at 8:17 p.m. Saturday. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, failure to stay in the right lane, failure to comply, resisting arrest and reckless operation. Pepper spray was used to subdue him during the arrest. He appeared in Lowville Village Court and was taken to Lewis County jail.

Mr. Leviker said all participating agencies will meet in May to discuss the event, correct any mistakes and better prepare for future events.

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