ALBANY — The snowmobile driver killed early Thursday morning while riding on Interstate-787 in Albany has been identified as a Schenectady man, state police said on Friday.
The snowmobile operator was identified as 40-year-old Raymond E. Chevalier, who died while apparently operating a snowmobile on the downtown Albany highway around 2:30 a.m., at the height of the storm that brought more than 30 inches of snow to most of the area.
Police said their preliminary investigation determined Chevalier was operating his snowmobile southbound on the interstate when he rear-ended a tractor-trailer being driven by Paul O. Morrison, 54, of Esperance. Morrison was not impaired and has cooperated fully with the investigation, state police said. Their investigation into the accident continues.
The bizarre crash was one of two fatal accidents in the state that Gov. Andrew Cuomo attributed to the intense storm, which swept across much of upstate but hit the Capital Region particularly hard.
The initial investigation required state police to close all of the southbound lanes near Exit 4B in downtown Albany, where the crash occurred.
State law says it is illegal to operate snowmobiles on interstate highways and most other state roads except in certain snow emergencies at the direction of a law enforcement officer or other authority. It is generally illegal to operate them on public roads and streets, with a few exceptions spelled out in law in the Tug Hill region east of Lake Ontario, where snowmobiling is a popular pastime because of the amount of snow it gets.
Despite those laws, the amount of snow the region just got — and paucity of vehicle traffic during snow emergencies — makes snowmobiling in the street tempting, as some Schenectady residents have demonstrated.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on Friday reminded snowmobilers to operate safely and said state-approved safety courses continue to be offered despite the pandemic. A safety course is required of all operators between ages 10 and 18, “but all riders can benefit from taking a course that provides fundamental information which all should possess to ensure the safety of both rider and other trail users.”
Snowmobilers must observe laws against unsafe or reckless operation, speed limits of no more than 55 mph, and intoxicated operation is illegal.
State officials expect snowmobile use to be up this winter because outdoor recreation has become more popular during the pandemic, and the current closure of the U.S.-Canada border means New York riders don’t have access to Canada’s extensive snowmobile trail system.