Ontario snowmobile deaths hit 14-year high last winter: OPP

  Provincial police say last winter marked the highest number of snowmobile-related deaths the force has responded to in almost 15 years.

They say they responded to 27 snowmobile deaths in the winter of 2016-2017 -- one third of which involved people travelling on frozen waterways who went through the ice.

OPP say that's the highest number of such deaths the force has responded to since the winter of 2003-2004.

Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair says the vast majority of the 27 people who died last winter took "unnecessary risks".

He says speeding, driving too fast for the conditions, consuming alcohol, riding on unsafe ice and other risky behaviours lead to snowmobile deaths every year.

The police force released the statistics in advance of what it's calling "safe snowmobile week". It is participating in the campaign with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs.