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Rider dead in snowmobile/train collision

OPP identify sledder as Thornton man in his 50's

A 52-year-old Thornton man is dead after the snowmobile he was riding collided with a CP freight train in Midhurst.

At around 1:20 p.m. Friday, members of the Huronia West OPP Detachment, Springwater Fire Department and the Simcoe County Paramedic Service responded to the collision in the Story and Russell Road area. 

OPP say Jeffrey Hummel was taken to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre with serious injuries where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

"We're looking at everything because we don't know an exact cause at this point.  To say is it just speed?  I can't say that. Is it the weather? I can't say that either but those are factors that obviously we're going to look into," OPP Const. Chris Lesage said at the scene. 

Hummel was alone on his sled but other snowmobiles were in the area, according to police. 

The initial OPP investigation revealed that the snowmobile was northbound on the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) Trail B112 when it collided with a train that crossed the trail.

"This is the 16th snowmobile fatality so far this season. There was 12 total last year," said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. "We've seen a very significant increase this year and it's very disturbing."

The trail was closed for the investigation and CP Rail investigators were also on scene. 

A steady stream of riders taking advantage of the nice weather and snow pulled up at the scene. 

Sledder Dave Doucette expressed shock at the fatal crash.

"It's terrible. I don't believe it," said Doucette.

Doucette said there are 'quite a few' trails that cross train tracks and you have to 'keep your eyes peeled.' 

"I guess he didn't see the signs," said Dave Doucette. "Sometimes you miss them because they are small. Maybe they should put bigger ones up."

Doucette's theory for the spike in fatalities is due to the large amount of snow this and many more riders on the trails.