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Bayfield man dies in snowmobile crash

Sled left road and fell down a 100-foot slope on Blue Ridge Drive
The snowmobile crash is under investigation with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. (Durango Herald file)

A 59-year-old La Plata County man died in a snowmobile crash Saturday in the 300 block of Blue Ridge Drive in the Forest Lakes subdivision.

Stephen Waltens was operating the snowmobile when it left the road and careened down a 100-foot drop and hit a tree.

La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said Waltens swerved off the road to avoid an oncoming vehicle.

Upper Pine River Fire Protection District was dispatched at 2:48 p.m. and emergency crews arrived to find the snowmobile down an embankment.

Upper Pine crews attempted to resuscitate Waltens, but his injuries were fatal. Waltens was riding with a 12-year-old passenger at the time of the crash. The 12-year-old passenger was able to exit the sled before it went off the road.

Waltens was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, according to a news release from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

“Whether you’re going around the block or out on a longer ride with a recreational vehicle of any sort, a helmet is an absolute must,” said Chief Bruce Evans in a news release from Upper Pine.

Upper Pine crews set up a rope system to bring the patient up a 60-degree slope. The crash is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, and an autopsy will be conducted Wednesday.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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