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April 2014

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Report: Snowmobile was going 40 mph when it hit ice heave on Okauchee Lake

Two snowmobiles on Okauchee Lake were traveling at about 40 mph when they hit an ice heave March 2, according to a report from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

Both drivers were injured. Jeffrey Zeimet, 41, W351 N5288 Highway C, Oconomowoc, was taken to Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital. The driver of a second snowmobile, James Douglas, 49, W288 N6355 Darles Court, Merton, was hurt more seriously and was taken by Flight for Life to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

According to the report, Douglas was riding with his friend, Paul Bostrom, 49, of W342 N4900 Oak Lane, Nashotah. Bostrom, who had been driving a third snowmobile, told officers this was Douglas' first time on a snowmobile. As they drove south on Okauchee Lake, Bostrom struck the ice heave but was able to maintain control of his vehicle. He continued on until he realized Douglas' snowmobile was no longer behind him.

Douglas hit the same ice heave, according to witnesses who were fishing nearby. He was thrown from his snowmobile and sustained serious neck and back injuries, according to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Warden Matt Groppi, who responded to the crash, indicated that the DNR would handle the incident. The DNR normally has jurisdiction over snowmobile crashes in Wisconsin. In this case, however, the Sheriff's Department would have handled the incident because it was operating under a grant allowing for snowmobile patrol.

The DNR has told Lake Country Publications it does not routinely prepare reports on crashes that do not involve drunken driving charges or fatalities. Neither case applies here. The Sheriff's Department prepared the report at the request of Lake Country Publications.

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