Man arrested for setting booby-traps on snowmobile trail


SAND LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Snowmobiling is already a dangerous sport, but there could be someone out there trying to make your ride more hazardous.

Snowmobile trails are maintained by clubs across the state, they’ll remove any tree branches or other debris on the paths. But, normally they wouldn’t think to have to look out for booby-traps as well.

Mark Bonesteel has been snowmobiling ever since he was about nine years old, but he still gets worried about potential hazards anytime he goes out for a ride. He is the club president for the Black River Raiders.

“Debris in trails, other snowmobilers not riding to the right, you know excessive speed,” Bonesteel said.

Now he also thinks about booby-traps, though he’s never come across one himself, he’s heard of others who have.

“Be it if they put it low enough where it just catches the skis, the lower part of the snowmobile or if they put it up high enough where you know it catches somebody in the chest or the head you know you could definitely die from it,” Bonesteel said.

In fact, the Columbia County Sheriff’s office just arrested 31-year-old Jason Higley for placing one on his neighbor’s trail this week. The DA says he placed a pipe on the trail and strung a wire connecting two trees one which he cut so that if a snowmobiler came through it’d fall on top of them.

Higley allegedly told the deputy sheriff he did this because he was angry about the noise and traffic coming from the trail. Luckily, someone discovered it before anyone got hurt.

“That’s inexcusable on any level,” said Tom Kiely, of Grafton Trailblazers Snowmobile Club

Snowmobiler, Tom Kiely has never heard something like this before and doesn’t feel it’s too common.

“I think people are too lazy to wander into the woods and the snow to do stuff like that,” Kiely said.

Either way ,he says when you’re out on the trails, you always want to keep your eyes and ears open.

“You always want to be aware of the trail that you’re on, the speed that you’re doing, your surroundings,” Kiely said.

That’s what it comes down to, because you never know what could come your way.

“You can’t ride above your ability you know there’s a lot of people out there that think they’re superman too you know and that’s just not it cause anything can happen in a split second,” Bonesteel said.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s office told NEWS10 ABC that the booby-trap wasn’t on a marked trail, but a smaller trail used by locals. Higley remains in the county jail on charges including reckless endangerment; he’ll be back in court in March.

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