"My people tell me the ice is very weak out there it isn't very thick once you get out on the main lake and this is the main lake part of the lake out here its jut not safe to be out there," said Middlebury Fire Chief, Rick Cole.
First responders from four different agencies tried to rescue the five riders that fell into the lake. The driver of one of the snowmobiles was able to push her four-year old passenger out of the water to safety. State rescue divers were called to help, but rescuers on scene were able to pull everyone from the freezing water before the divers arrived. "We had people with ropes on, used the canoe here for stability and spread the weight over the ice so we wouldn't and up with anybody else through," Cole said.
Three of the snowmobilers were pronounced dead at Porter Hospital -- Three year-old Bryanna Popp of Brandon, 50-year-old Kevin Flynn of Whiting, and 24-year-old Carrie Flynn also of Whiting. Six-year-old Jeremiah Popp and 47-year-old Terry Flynn survived the accident.
Other snowmobile riders in the area say ice on the lake is thin and that the lake had just recently frozen over. "Well its been open water and we haven't had that much cold weather and then we got that snow which acts as a blanket insulation and it doesn't make the ice that it should," said Carl Murray of Bristol.
The Vermont State Police have contacted the local snowmobile club and requested that they post warnings on all the VAST trails near the accident scene. They are also warning riders to stay off any lake they are unfamiliar with.
Molly Smith - WCAX News