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Case Study #13 Four men, each on their own snowmobile, were traveling to Sturgeon Bay for dinner and drinks. They left Sturgeon Bay around 10 p.m. and were heading back to Menominee, Michigan. A thick fog rolled in when they were about half way home and the men became disoriented. Eventually they saw a light that they thought they recognized. As the group rode toward the beacon, the first two machines broke through thin ice. The other two men pulled their friends from the water. But two machines were now at the bottom of the lake. So they doubled up on the remaining two snowmobiles and made plans to continue their trip to Michigan.
They thought they were familiar with that part of the lake and decided they could avoid more thin ice and open water by changing their direction. Unknowingly, they set out on a course for more open water. Within only a few minutes, the two men on the lead machine drove into more open water. The other two men heard one of the victims yelling and they began a frantic search for their friends. They couldn’t find them and a call was made to 911. The two remaining men eventually saw emergency lights from rescue team on shore and drove towards them to safety.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was sent to search for the victims the next day. They recovered one victim but the body of the second victim was never found. Investigators determined that the recovered victim had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.