Rescued snowmobilers possibly facing charges

GATES, N.Y. (WHEC) — The snowmobilers rescued from the icy canal Sunday afternoon could be facing charges. It was not clear when or if they would be filed. Any type of fines or charges were also unclear.

Seven snowmobilers were safely rescued from the Erie Canal in Gates, according to Gates Fire Chief Alan Bubel.

The fire chief says at appropriately 3:42 p.m., crews received report of snowmobilers on ice in the water around Brooks Avenue in Gates.

One person went through the ice and six other snowmobilers were stranded and eventually removed by rescue crews. One was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital.

"Snowmobiling is not allowed on the canal. Charges are pending. We’re not sure where we’re going with that, but we’ve been in contact with the canal cooperation," said Sgt. Matthew Mackenzie with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency crews repelled down the embankment to save the stranded sledders. There was also a New York State Police chopper to help search and rescue efforts. Out of the seven sleds, two snowmobiles were still in the water. Investigators say the group noticed the ice was getting thinner and tried to get off the ice when it gave way.

"They were traveling west along the canal and they entered from Brockport. The ice was getting progressively thinner so they were looking for a place to get off but there is none. The embankment on the side is just too steep,” Mackenzie added.

According to the fire chief, about 30 to 40 rescue crews assisted over the course of two approximately two hours.