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Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Wednesday, 8:45 AM.  22.5 degrees, wind SW, very light.  It is overcast and the barometer still predicts partly cloudy skies.  Spring must be getting closer, as I have a Bayfield in Bloom committee meeting this morning, although the Bayfield in Bloom kickoff, radio show and Arbor Day celebration is on Friday, May 13, still months away.
    The Chequamegon Bay area suffered an unusual tragedy last weekend.  The annual Book Across The Bay, a cross country ski rally from Ashland across the ice to Washburn, was held Saturday night. It’s name refers to it being a fund raising event for local libraries. It is a colorful, candle-lit nighttime event.  There were 4,000 participants this year.  It was brutally windy and cold Saturday night, and the ice was so slippery that it had to be groomed with cross-country ski equipment.  The event has always been well monitored and every effort taken to ensure the safety of participants.  However, a bizarre accident occurred this year.  On Sunday morning a young skier was found dead, the victim of a hit and run some time the night before. He evidently had skied the course and then turned around and retraced his route back to Ashland, which is not uncommon.  His name has not been released as yet, although he has been identified as possibly a Northland College student.
    The driver of the vehicle has turned himself in to the sheriff, accompanied by his father, but there have been few other details released.  Was the skier killed instantly, or left, injured, to freeze to death in the night?  What were the young driver and a passenger doing on the dangerously slippery ice in the middle of the night?  Were they out thrill riding on the ice?  Was alcohol involved?  We will have to wait to find out.
    Small communities have their tragedies, just as do larger; that's life. But perhaps the popular event should not be held at night.

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