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Lewis County deputies prepared for trail patrols

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LOWVILLE — Snowmobile patrols are ready for the beginning of the 2013-14 sledding season in Lewis County.

“We are hoping to have more trail presence up there this year,” said Lewis County Undersheriff James M. Monnat.

Last season, Lewis County had the highest number of snowmobile accidents in the state.

“Of the total of 193 accidents statewide, 36 of those were in Lewis County,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Michael K. Leviker.

The county with the second highest total tallied 19 accidents.

Of the 36 accidents, 34 were on the Tug Hill Plateau, 24 were accessible only by snowmobile, while 12 could be accessed by roadway or patrol vehicles. Speed was listed as a factor in 14 of the accidents.

“Of all the accidents, only three were not on an approved trail,” said Deputy Leviker.

One of the accidents resulted in a fatality, while several other were considered serious accidents, said Deputy Leviker.

The sheriff’s department owns three snowmobiles used for trail patrol.

Deputy Leviker’s records show patrols have traveled 86,525 miles since the 1994-95 season.

Legislator Richard C. Lucas, R-Barnes Corners, didn’t think a recently debated topic, whether there is too much or not enough law enforcement on the trails, had an easy answer.

“Having other agencies helps our police force,” he said, “but we could certainly benefit from better coordination of the agencies.”

He recalled complaints he had heard from snowmobilers.

“They were stopped two or three times between Barnes Corners and Montague,” he said, “but then did not see a patrol from Montague to Highmarket.”

He said he encourages agencies to get together to plan better coverage of all trails.

Of last season’s 36 accidents, the sheriff’s department handled 24 of the subsequent investigations, while state police handled 11 and state Park Police investigated one.

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