Snowmobile hits, kills 1 dog, hurts another; flees

FRUITLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – The search continues for a snowmobile rider who authorities said crashed into two dogs, killing one, and then fled the scene.

It was around 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 when the incident occurred on Simonelli Road near Lakewood Road in Fruitland Township, south of Whitehall, in Muskegon County.

Two residents were at the end of a driveway while snow was being cleared and mail was being retrieved from a mailbox, according to a Tuesday news release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Two vehicles were visible at the end of the driveway with tractor lights illuminating the road.

Two Brittany Spaniels, owned by one of the residents, briefly ran into the gravel road and were returning to the drive when a snowmobile approached from the north, traveling in the center of the road at a high rate of speed, officials said.

The snowmobiler continued at a high speed and struck both dogs within 20 feet of the animals’ owner and a witness.

The snowmobiler did not slow or brake prior to or after the collision, officials said.

One dog died at the scene after being thrown 114 feet. The other dog required $6,000 worth of emergency care and surgery in Grand Rapids.

Conservation officers and local law enforcement have been working leads related to this incident but continue to seek additional information.

This snowmobiler may have left the Berry Junction Trail or the City of Whitehall just prior to the incident, and may have been returning to Fruitland Township or the Laketon Township area at the time of the crash.

The suspect’s snowmobile is dark-colored, and may be a mid to late 1990s, Polaris model.

Information about this incident can be provided to the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 1.800.292.7800 or the Muskegon Silent Observer at 231.72.CRIME (722-7463).

Snowmobiles in Muskegon County may operate to the extreme right of the “right of way,” or plowed portion of the road. Speeds may not exceed those posted or designated to normal vehicular traffic. Under Michigan Snowmobile and Motor Vehicle Code laws, snowmobiles involved in a crash causing property damage or human injury, must stop at the scene to provide information.

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