‘Skimmers’ arrested

Pair charged after daredevil snowmobile stunt Saturday


MEREDITH — Officers arrested two men Tuesday on charges they staged a stunt involving a high-powered snowmobile skimming across the open water of Weirs Channel and pulling a barefoot skier.

John Vachon, 28, and Patrick Keefer, 32, both of Meredith, were released shortly after arrest, New Hampshire Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan said.

Vachon was driving the bright yellow MXZ Ski Doo 600 and Keefer was the water skier in the Saturday stunt, Jordan said.

Video of the act lit up social media but disturbed officers who must respond when daredevil action goes wrong. 

In the video, which can be seen at https://tinyurl.com/hzt2z6t, the snowmobile can be seen going across ice, then on the water while pulling a person who is seen wearing water skis and then kicking them off and speeding along barefoot.

"The troubling part of it is when some people see others doing these crazy stunts they try to imitate it and they don't all go well," Jordan said.

Investigators were able to quickly solve the case because images of those involved were on YouTube and Facebook. A gofundme.com page was even set up to raise money to pay criminal fines.

Both men face disorderly conduct charges and Vachon faces the additional charge of skimming a snowmobile across water.
They each face fines of more than $500 and are to appear in Laconia District Court in April.

"I'm just glad they're alive to go to court, and hope that people will understand that this is not superhero behavior," Jordan said. "It was ludicrous and reckless."

He fears someone will try to mimic the stunt and that someone will get injured or killed. Emergency response crews could also be put in needless danger.

Even though snowmobiles are heavy, some can skim across water if they are driven fast enough and other conditions are just right.

Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson said the law against skimming was passed because people died trying to do it.

In some snowmobiles, a drive belt will come off, acting like an anchor and causing the machine to quickly drop. If the driver slows or hits debris, the snowmobile can also go down.

"I'm just glad it didn't end in disaster," he said.

Ready to run

‘City on the Lakes’ triathlon proposed for August


LACONIA — Looking to support local athletes after the loss of the Timberman Triathlon, a city committee gave tentative approval Wednesday to a proposal to hold a new event Aug. 12-13, with a swimming portion in Lake Opechee and running and bicycling segments in and around Laconia.

03-02 City on the Lakes triathlon logoJan Buitendag, the chief executive officer of Tritanium Sports of Gilford, said his plan has the potential for attracting hundreds of participants and boosting the local economy, while filling a void left by the departure of the annual Timberman Triathlon.

I just feel it would be such a big loss not to go ahead with another triathlon in our area because of the impact it had not only on the athletes but also on the community and the economy of the area,” he told the city's Special Events Committee.

He is calling it the “City on the Lakes Triathlon.”

The City Council will now consider the matter.

Buitendag has organized dozens of athletic events. Ironman Corp., which owns the Timberman Triathlon, decided to replace it this year with an event at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

"The Timberman was a tradition in this part of the world and it had a huge impact on the local economy,” Buitendag said.

He said it would be good to have a locally run event at a time when many marathons are now run by big companies.

We would like to go back to the roots of the thing, triathlons presented by locals, supported by the locals for ultra-athletes,” Buitendag said.

The first day of competition would be an event featuring a 400-yard swim, a 16-mile bicycle race and a 3.1-mile run. The second day would have a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bicycle race and a 13.1-mile run. Charge for participation will be about $250.

Runners would race on roads around Lake Opechee, the same route used by the Runaway Pumpkin 10K race. The bicycling portion would be an out-and-back along New Hampshire Routes 106 and 104 from Laconia to Bristol.

Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson said the triathlon has traditionally been a boon to local businesses.

This is a big event,” he said. “This particular weekend in August, the hotels around here are filled up and so are all the restaurants. These runners eat a lot of food before they start running.”

Part of the planning to be done before such events involves emergency medical response.

Erickson said sometimes runners get severely dehydrated and need intravenous fluids.

The standing orders are that if we have to give them one IV, they are fine,” he said. “If we have to give them two IVs, they have to be transported to the hospital.”

Buitendag, 70, said he has run in more than 100 marathons, and many other ultra-athletic events.

He has frequently competed in the New York City Marathon, and takes inspiration from one particular person he saw compete in that race.

One year, there was an athlete and it took him four days to complete the marathon,” Buitendag said. “You know why? He had no legs. He did it on his hands. If that man can do it, that's an example for us all.”

03-02 City on the lakes triathlon color route

03-02 City on the lakes triathlon bike route

03-02 City on the lakes triathlon route

Alton officer fired at car

Officer shot at car as it approached accident scene


ALTON — An Alton police officer who was apparently finishing up an investigation at the scene of an accident on Route 140 Saturday night fired his gun at a second car which approached the scene after he became concerned over the way in which the vehicle was being operated.
Lt. Scott Gilbert, commander of the State Police Major Crime Unit, said that the driver of the first vehicle, who was charged with driving while intoxicated, had already been taken from the accident scene near Youngstown Road when the second incident took place.
He said the police officer fired a single round "because of the manner in which the vehicle was being operated." Gilbert said the vehicle came to a rest and that driver was taken into custody.
The arrest was made by Gilford police, who had been called upon for assistance by the Alton police.
Gilford police arrested Erik Klerk, 50, of Alton, who was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.
Gilbert said it would be premature to release the name of the Alton police officer who fired the shot as the investigation of the incident has not yet been completed. He said that the Belknap County Attorney will make a determination about the officer involved shooting, not the state Attorney General's office, because no one was injured in the shooting.
He said a police request for public assistance has paid off. State Police on Sunday said they wanted to speak to the driver of a U-Haul truck who might have driven by at the time of the shooting.
"The person came forward, as did two or three others," said Gilbert.