Hwy 11 fatality sharpens focus on snowmobile safety rules

An 11-year-old girl's death in a snowmobile crash is reminding others about sled safety.

'I'm struck by how tragic it is,' says OPP Const. Bowes

Provincial law says one must be 12 years old to drive a snowmobile, and 16 to cross a highway. In either case, people are required to have a motorized snow vehicle operator's license. (Submitted by Doug Barnes)

Snowmobilers in the northeast are grieving over the death of an 11-year-old girl.

On Feb. 1, Amanda Huxley was snowmobiling when her machine crashed into a transport on Highway 11, just south of Iroquois Falls. She and three other people, including family members, were visiting the area from Burlington, Ont.

Police say Huxley was trying to cross the highway to get from one end of a provincial trail to the next.

She was taken to the local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

"Everybody's really down right now," says Crystal Girard, the district manager of the Timiskaming Abitibi Trail Association.

"They're sad, and they're questioning how this could happen to such a young individual." 

She says the local club has looked over all their safety requirements, ensuring their safety signs were visible.

Must be 12 to drive a sled

OPP Const. Brian Bowes says it's rare to find children driving snowmobiles.

"As a father, I'm struck by how tragic it is," Bowes says.

"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?"

Provincial law says one must be 12 years old to drive a snowmobile, and 16 to cross a highway. In either case, people are required to have a motorized snow vehicle operator's license.

Even though the girl wasn't from the area, Girard says local riders are feeling the loss.

"They're hurt," she says. "Everybody has a heavy heart, and they're not too sure how to react at this point."

OPP say the crash is still under investigation.

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