One dead, two injured in three recent crashes

Slow down, cops and Iqaluit city officials urge


Police and city officials in Iqaluit are pleading with all drivers to slow down following a string of collisions between snowmobiles and automobiles.

One person has died and two others injured in three separate collisions between snowmobiles and other vehicles over the past month.

"[Snowmobile drivers must] realize that they're not invincible," said Sgt. Peter Pilgrim of the Iqaluit RCMP. "If they try and race a car, they're not going to win that race as we've seen this last month."

Pilgrim and Iqaluit mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik urged drivers of both snowmobiles and cars to slow down and be careful.

On March 17, a youth was airlifted to hospital in Ottawa after the snowmobile he was riding on crashed into a pickup truck near Iqaluit's library.

The driver of the snowmobile, also a youth, fled the accident but, accompanied by his mother, turned himself in to police a day later.

That driver, who cannot be named, faces charges in connection with the incident, though Pilgrim wouldn't say what they might be until charges were actually laid.

The passenger had to be flow to Ottawa for treatment, but was released from hospital March 20, Pilgrim said.

On March 12, an Iqaluit man driving a snowmobile was injured during a head-on crash with a pickup truck on Federal Road.

And on Feb. 22 a 25-year old man died after crashing his snowmobile into a sport utility vehicle near the city's White Row neighbourhood.

The string of crashes has city council mulling ways to help cars, snowmobiles and pedestrians better co-exist, Sheutiapik said.

In the past, the city has talked about ways of separating snowmobiles and automobiles, possibly by encircling the city with snowmobile trails.

But instead, the city chose to emphasize pedestrian walkways, Sheutiapik said.

"The next thing now is going to be the skidoo trails," she said.

The city is also mulling bylaws to control snowmobile driving, and has even floated the idea of supplying bylaw officers with snowmobiles.

But Sheutiapik said there's concern that this simply lead to dangerous high-speed chases.

Pilgrim said RCMP try to avoid pursuits with snowmobiles for the same reason.

"When it comes to snowmobiles, we're caught between a rock and a hard place because we have to always take the safety of the public in mind [along] with the safety of the driver," he said.

"Pursuits with snowmobiles are not a common practice with the RCMP, that's for sure."

Sheutiapik said she is concerned about young people driving snowmobiles unsupervised and urged parents to make sure their kids are ready to drive snow machines.

In the meantime, RCMP members were to meet with council this past Tuesday to try to find ways where police and bylaw officers can work together to prevent more accidents.

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