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11-year-old girl killed in highway snowmobile accident near Iroquois Falls

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Snowmobilers in the Iroquois Falls region are lamenting the death of an 11-year-old girl who was killed on a machine last week.

The young girl’s snowmobile collided with a transport while she was crossing Highway 11 in attempt to get from one end of the trail to the other.

Although she and her family were visiting the region from Burlington, Ontario, local riders are reasonably shaken.

“They’re hurt,” Crystal Girard, the district manager of the Timiskaming Abitibi Trail Association, told CBC News. “Everybody has a heavy heart, and they’re not sure how to react at this point.”

The OPP’s news release made no mention of the age restrictions for operating a snowmobile, but Const. Brian Bowes told CBC that it’s rare to find such young children driving snowmobiles, likely because it’s illegal.

“As a father, I’m struck by how tragic it is,” he said. “But from a law enforcement standpoint, I have questions. The most obvious one being, how is an 11-year-old person driving a snow machine in the first place?”

According to the province’s Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, you must be 12-years-old to drive a snowmobile and at least 16 to cross a highway. In both cases, you must also possess a snow vehicle operator’s licence.

After receiving training from the Canada Safety Council, Greater Sudbury Police Services have been patrolling the region’s trails, where another woman was killed when she lost control of her snowmobile and hit a tree while riding along a closed trail near O’Neil Dr. West.

In addition to familiarizing yourself with and following provincial laws regarding snowmobiles, officials with the Canada Safety Council have stressed the importance of being prepared.

Mike Preud’homme, the coordinator for off-road vehicles, told CBC that every rider should conduct a thorough check of their machine before heading out onto the trails, always stay to the right, plan to use less than a full tank of gas in case of emergency, check the weather before heading out, tell people where you’re going, and always dress appropriately for conditions.