(January 2000, Michigan) While the story of the Dog and Jeep may be a legend, it is almost certainly based on a true event or almost-event. I have had the dubious pleasure of living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There are a number of individuals here who are fully capable of just such a series of events. Drinking is a hobby, and drunken snowmobiling is considered family fun. The list of small-time Darwin Award nominees gets longer every day, as drunks and idiots find novel ways of killing themselves on snowmobiles. Alcohol and high speed (up to and over 100 mph) combined with twisting tree-lined trails and thin ice are a guaranteed to bring out the morons. This year, six people have already died in snowmobile accidents, and the season is only a month old.
Here's what happened to a pair of brothers in Charlevoix, which is in the northern Lower Portion of Michigan, but gets some stupidity spillover from its proximity to the Upper Peninsula. This happened in the winter of '96 or '97.
Charlevoix is on Lake Michigan, and is divided into a north part and a south part by a shipping channel that connects Lake Michigan with a large inland lake, Lake Charlevoix. Even large lakes typically form thick ice in the winter, sturdy enough for cars, trucks, and an army of snowmobiles to drive on. There is a smaller lake along the channel, called Round Lake, with narrow opening into Lake Charlevoix that runs with fast currents year 'round. This narrow passage from Round Lake is notorious for having thin ice or no ice, even in the coldest depths of winter, because of the swift current there.
Charlevoix has a festival in December that is the perfect opportunity to combine snow, alcohol, and fast sleds. The two brothers were at the festival in the north town, and after they consumed a large amount of alcohol, they decided to go to a party in the south town. Instead of choosing one of a multitude of longer, safer paths south, they elected to take a short cut across Round Lake. It was a driving snowstorm, with blowing slow and very low visibility.
A short time later, a woman walking her dog along the shoreline heard faint cries for help. Through an opening in the snow, she saw someone struggling in a hole in the ice. She ran to the Coast Guard station and alerted the Ice Rescue Team, which was having coffee and cookies following a successful training exercise.
They leapt to the rescue, saving the struggling man, who was hypothermic and virtually incoherent. He was rushed to the hospital, where the doctors began the process of warming and reviving him. As he regained consciousness, he looked around and asked, "How's my brother?"
Back to the lake and the ice rushed the Ice Rescue Team. They found the snowmobiles at the bottom of the lake, and a hole in the thin ice, but no brother was to be found. They searched for ten days, using divers and a video camera lowered through freshly-drilled ice holes. Nothing. It was almost two years later when the brother finally turned up, still held together by his leather (?!) snowmobile suit.
These two would not qualify for a Darwin Award, because one survived and the other left a wife and young daughter. But as an example of stupidity with snowmobiles and alcohol, it is classic, and can be confirmed true.
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Submitted by: CS