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Forest Lake man dies of injuries suffered in head-on snowmobile accident

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG
  • Star Tribune
  • January 23, 2011 - 8:14 PM

A Forest Lake man died early Sunday of injuries he suffered when his snowmobile crashed head-on into another man's sled Saturday afternoon in Chisago County.

The two men, who did not know each other, were snowmobiling on the Wild River trail near County Road 37 and Herberg Road in Taylors Falls when the accident occurred about 2:45 p.m., according to the Chisago County Sheriff's Office.

The snowmobiles collided on the crest of a hill where the trail curves, said sheriff's Cpl. Shane Carroll.

"The belief is that they couldn't see each other for a period of time," Carroll said.

Both men were ejected from their sleds, which then caught fire.

"They were burned to the ground," Carroll said of the sleds. "Both snowmobiles were basically unrecognizable. I've been doing this for 18 years, and that's the first one I saw that was that bad."

The men, both of whom were wearing helmets, were injured but not burned.

Alcohol does not appear to have been a factor, but speed probably was, Carroll said. The trail's posted speed at the scene of the accident is 50 miles per hour. It's unclear how fast the sleds were traveling.

One rider was airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he died about 5 a.m. Sunday. Authorities have not released his name.

The other rider, Craig Finholdt, 56, also of Forest Lake, was in critical condition at Regions Hospital Sunday.

Carroll said it appeared that Finholdt was traveling on the wrong side of the trail when he and the other rider collided. The trail is wide enough for two sleds to pass safely, Carroll said.

Finholdt was snowmobiling alone. The other rider was with family members but was not carrying passengers.

Nineteen people statewide died in snowmobile-related accidents in the 2009-10 winter season, Carroll said.

Chao Xiong • 651-735-1686

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