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No victim found after snowmobile went through the ice

RINDGE — An extensive search for a possible victim of a snowmobile that fell through the ice on Emerson Pond last week revealed no casualties.

State and local authorities are still attempting to track down the owner of a snowmobile, which was apparently abandoned after partially falling through the ice at some point last week. After tracing the registration of the snowmobile, N.H. Fish and Game confirmed that the current owner is a New Ipswich resident, who has not yet been officially named.

On Thursday at about 4:10 p.m., two N.H. Fish and Game Department officers were conducting a routine patrol on Emerson Pond in Rindge when they discovered a partially submerged snowmobile, according to a press release issued by N.H. Fish and Game on Friday.

Partially frozen footprints leading from the snowmobile suggested the operator had managed to leave the scene, but Fish and Game moved with a search to make sure no one had gone into the water.

Fire departments from Jaffrey, Winchester and Rindge, as well as the Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance, three dive teams from Swanzey, New Ipswich and Winchendon, Mass., all responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.

Responders were able to get the registration number, make, and model of the submerged snowmobile. As firefighters attempted to get a rope around the machine to haul it out of the water and back onto the ice, but the machine broke through the ice and became fully submerged, according to the press release.

Officials did a door-to-door investigation up and down Red Gate Lane and Jay Drive, the roads on either side of the pond, asking for information. None of the residents reported any knowledge of either the snowmobile or any missing people.

The search was suspended at about 7 p.m. Thursday due to safety concerns about the falling darkness and poor ice conditions, and continued the following morning.

“We’re leaning strongly in the direction that there is no one there,” said Rindge Fire Chief Rick Donovan in an interview on Friday. “The footprints leading away from the area are a strong indicator of that, but we have to check it out and verify our assumptions.”

Donovan said it wasn’t clear at what point in the week the machine had gone through the ice, and the incident could have occurred any time between New Year’s Day up until Thursday morning.

“No one seems to have any info. as to how this got here,” Donovan said.

Fish and Game officers came prepared with a dive team robotic camera to do a thorough search under the ice on Friday morning. The search team had clear visibility under the ice, and did not locate any sign of a person having gone under.

The New Ipswich Police Department is currently working with Fish and Game to locate the owner of the vehicle.

The N.H. Department of Environmental Services was notified and will be in charge of the removal of the snowmobile when conditions permit. The incident is under investigation by the Fish and Game Department and DES. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Rindge police or Fish and Game.

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