Riga Snowmobile-Car Crash Fatality: Driver Asleep At the Wheel?

Saturday's Democrat & Chronicle reported "Snowmobiler Killed in Riga". The accident happened on Thursday night, February 10, 2011, at about 10:00, when a car, traveling westbound, crossed over to the eastbound lane and struck two snowmobiles head-on, killing one person.

Jason Arnold, age 30 was driving the car. The snowmobiler was Thomas Bushman, 37 years old. He was thrown from his sled and died at the crash site.

The accident happened on a narrow bridge over railroad tracks which did not allow the snowmobiles any room to maneuver when faced with an oncoming car.

The newspaper article concluded "no charges had been filed" and "the investigation is continuing"; more information is now available.

The Police Accident Report, form MV-104A from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, completed by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office gives more details of the occurrence.

The report includes a section "Apparent Contributing Factors - Human" which lists Mr. Arnold's "vehicle 1" with numeric codes indicating "Fell Asleep" and "Failure to Keep Right". The report also mentions that a MCSO Investigator responded to the scene and interviewed Mr. Arnold and a witness to the accident. Although "Alcohol Involvement" was not indicated on the form by the reporting deputy, another deputy apparently obtained a blood sample from Mr. Arnold. Toxicology tests will presumably be run on the blood to determine if Mr. Arnold was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.

To Mr. Bushman's family it probably matters little if Mr. Arnold was driving while intoxicated, or simply was so tired that he fell asleep at the wheel. It makes a big difference to Mr. Arnold however, as he could be charged with vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault as a result of an alcohol- or drug-related driving violation that caused Mr. Bushman's death.