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Snowmobile rider killed after hitting wire fence

A snowmobile operator was killed and a second injured in separate crashes within eight hours of each other, officials said.

The first crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when a Fort Wayne man was pulled from Jimmerson Lake after riding a snowmobile into the Steuben County lake, state conservation officers with the Department of Natural Resources said.

Matthew Wagoner, 46, was riding a snowmobile near the north side of the lake with two friends when he drove the snowmobile onto the ice to check for a safe area to ride. As he drove west along the northern shore, the snowmobile hit a patch of open water, the DNR said.

Fellow riders who watched from shore ran out onto the ice with rope to rescue Wagoner. Wagoner managed to break the thinner ice to get to a place where he could stand and was then pulled onto the ice by the fellow riders, the DNR said.

Emergency workers were able to pull Wagoner across the ice to shore.

He was taken to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne by Steuben County EMS.

Wagoner was treated for mild hypothermia and released, the DNR said.

The second crash occurred shortly after 1:45 a.m. Wednesday in the 2000 block of West County Road 200 North in Whitley County.

According to the DNR, Justin Hinen, 21, of Columbia City, was killed when he drove a snowmobile off County Road 200 and headed west across a field.

After traveling a few hundred yards, Hinen’s snowmobile struck a wire fence surrounding a livestock pasture, the DNR said.

The driver of a second snowmobile saw Hinen crash and called 911. Hinen was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers at the scene said the cause of death appeared to be blunt-force trauma to the neck.

jcrothers@jg.net

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