Two fatal All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) accidents occurred in Carlton County last week.
On July 4, at the intersection of County Road 139 and County Road 6 in Barnumn Township an ATV crash was reported. The female driver of the ATV was transported by Life Link helicopter to Essentia Hospital St. Mary’s in Duluth. The victim, later identified as Tricia Lanthier of Proctor, died at the hospital.
Also on July 4, just off of the Golf Course Road in Holyoke Township an ATV crash was reported. The victim, later identified as Seamus Flynn of Minneapolis, was pronounced dead at the accident scene.
A GoFundMe campaign to support the Lanthier family has raised nearly $13,000 so far. The account was created to help the family deal with loss of income, medical expenses and funeral costs. Tricia Lanthier was one of two fatal ATV accident victims on July 4 in Carlton County. She is survived by her husband Pete, her two sons Trevor (16) and Caleb (12), and her family.
Both the Moose Lake City Council and Carlton County Board of Commissioners discussed the increasing ATV traffic in the area. Increasing numbers of concerns and complaints have been heard by officials over safety.
Gregory Bernu, Carlton County Land Commissioner, has been looking into the ATV traffic on both the Soo Line Trail and at the Soo Pits. A public hearing about proposed safety rules for ATV and Off Highway Vehicle use in the Soo Pits was held during the June 22 County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Gail Lundgren, who lives near the entrance to the Soo Pits, along with several community members were present at the public hearing. Lundgren let the commissioners know that this is not a new problem. Every year according to Lundgren there is more traffic, bigger machines, louder machines and riders that are more rude. Enforcement was sited as the biggest issue with use of the Soo Pits.
There is an existing ordinance for the use of the Soo Line Trail, but because of the property descriptions needed in an official ordinance a separate one is being drafted for the Soo Pits. This ordinance is based on the one for the Soo Line Trail, but with alterations due to the location and use differences.
An ordinance detailing the rules for the safe use of the area, the ordinance is necessary for enforcement by Police and Department of Natural Resources Officers. Included in the changes to the ordinance were setting hours of use, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. Violation of ordinances could result in fines not to exceed $700 and or up to 90 days in jail.
Several streets and areas in town have been the focus of a large amount of traffic getting on and off of the trails. Mayor Ted Shaw specifically mentioned concerns being raised by community members about the Riverside Arena parking lot, Earl Ellens Drive, Fifth Street and Lakeshore Drive. Specific complaints were about the large amount of dust raised, speeding and hazardous driving. Two children were reported to have almost been struck by an ATV in the Riverside Arena parking lot.
Al Schmeling, a Lakeshore Drive resident, was present at the meeting. He has seen multiple vehicles traveling well above the speed limit drive side by side down his road. Signs saying “RESPECT THE HOMEOWNERS SLOW DOWN PLEASE!” were made by Schmeling. Because of city sign ordinances he was there to approach the council about the correct place to post the signs. Council members let Schmeling know that several streets they have heard of who have signs like this simply ask neighbors and property owners for permission to post them in their yards.
Mayor Shaw mentioned that the traffic and safety issues balanced with the revenue that area businesses gain from ATV visitors. ATV users in Moose Lake are required to use the most direct route to their designated trail. Beginning April 2021, Fifth Street in Moose Lake will be closed to ATV traffic, this street is residential and there are accessible alternative routes to access the area trails. Residents of this area have raised complaints about the amount of dust being raised by ATV traffic.
Concerns were raised about closing routes and forcing ATV traffic to pass through the main areas of town. As an alternative portable speed bumps were presented, but after consideration these were thought to provide little deterrent for this type of vehicle. Using the twenty cameras in town to narrow down areas of concern was also suggested. County Commissioner Gary Peterson, present at the meeting, suggested that the city of Moose Lake work with Bernu to come up with solutions.