Berne man injured in snowmobile crash to be charged with SWI

— Albany County Sheriff’s Office

A snowmobile struck a tree and crashed Saturday night in Berne, sending its rider flying, police say.

BERNE — Alcohol and speed may have been the reason a man was thrown 25 feet from his snowmobile and left unconscious in the woods in Berne, police say.

Shawn F. Cootware, 30, of Berne, was found unconscious by Albany County Sheriff’s deputies on West Woodstock Road on Saturday, March 24, around 5 p.m., about two miles west of Cole Hill Road, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.

Police intend to charge him with snowmobiling while intoxicated.

The seasonal road had about two feet of snow on it, according to Lieutenant Arrel Moncur of the sheriff’s office. Emergency responders received a ride from nearby snowmobilers to travel the two miles down the road, he said. The Berne Volunteer Fire Company arrived and transported Cootware from the scene on a tracked vehicle.

Cootware was treated in Berne by Albany County paramedics and transported by Helderberg Ambulance to Albany Medical Center. On Monday, Albany Medical Center stated that they had no information on Cootware and declined to elaborate.

Moncur said that Cootware refused to take a blood test while in the hospital, but that the police still have evidence he was intoxicated.

“He smelled of alcohol at the scene,” he said.

Preliminary results from an ongoing investigation indicate Cootware was traveling east on West Woodstock Road when he lost control, went off the road, struck a tree, and was thrown from his snowmobile, according to the report.

Moncur said that Cootware’s snowmobile hit a tree about four feet in the air and launched him 25 feet away. When emergency responders arrived, a friend was holding his head. Moncur said that it is believed two other friends were there as well but left before first responders arrived at the scene of the accident. Moncur is not sure if one of these friends or another snowmobiler called 9-1-1.

Moncur said Cootware will be charged with snowmobiling while intoxicated, a misdemeanor; and riding an unregistered snowmobile, a violation. He is due in Berne Town Court on April 17.

Moncur said that snowmobiling accidents “occur once in a while,” but he suspects that they are often unreported.

Updated on March 27, 2018: Comments by Lieutenant Arrel Moncur were added.

More Hilltowns News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.