A snowmobile accident required an emergency airlift and left another man with amnesia after a scary encounter on a frozen New York lake.

The two riders, aged 53 and 14, required immediate medical care after crashing on Stillwater Reservoir in Webb, NY. The startling cause of the accident, however, is a hidden danger to many New York thrill seekers.

Steve Mason via Canva
Steve Mason via Canva

Serious Snowmobile Accident in Webb, NY

"Forest Ranger Lee overheard radio traffic reporting a snowmobile accident on Stillwater Reservoir", began a report from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC). "[One man] suffered a head injury and could not remember the accident... The 14-year-old subject was having difficulty breathing and suffering from chest pain", they continued. The cause of the crash was believed to be a pressure crack in the reservoir ice.

AirFox Photography via YouTube
An example of a lake pressure crack (AirFox Photography via YouTube)

What's a Pressure Crack?

Pressure cracks (above) form on frozen lakes when the ice undergoes immense... well... pressure. Put scientifically:

As ice warms and cools, like during a sunny winter day, it expands and shrinks.  This causes tension and compression in the ice sheet, making the ice weaker and resulting in cracking.

The DEC used the opportunity to caution all New York snowmobile riders to stay on the lookout for all safety hazards, as obstacles like pressure cracks can "move without notice and are difficult to see". Pressure cracks can also vary in size from small fractures to massive disruptions in the ice surface. Check out the fascinating drone footage of an enormous example below.

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