At about 7:30 p.m. two Fruitland Township residents were at the end of a driveway while snow was being cleared and mail was being retrieved from a mailbox along this lightly traveled rural road. Two vehicles were visible at the end of the driveway with tractor lights illuminating the road at the time of the incident.
Two Brittany Spaniels, owned by one of the residents, briefly ran into the gravel roadway and were returning to the drive when a lone snowmobile approaching from the north, traveling the center of the roadway at a high rate of speed. The snowmobile continued at high speed, striking both dogs within 20 feet of the owner and witness. The suspect vehicle did not slow or brake prior to or after the collision. One dog died on scene after being thrown 114 feet, and the second dog required emergency care and surgery in Grand Rapids with veterinary bills totaling more than $6,000.
The snowmobile was last observed at the intersection of Simonelli and Lakewood roads. Conservation Officers and local law enforcement have been working leads related to this incident, but continue to seek additional information. Investigators may be seeking a mid- to late-1990s Polaris snowmobile, dark in color, being operated by a lone occupant. This snowmobile may have left the Berry Junction Trail or the City of Whitehall just prior to the incident and may have been returning to Fruitland or the Laketon Township area at the time of the crash.
Snowmobiles in Muskegon County may operate to the extreme right of the “right of way” or plowed portion of the roadway. 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.
Information may be provided to the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 800-292-7800 or the Muskegon Silent Observer at 72-Crime.