LAKE LUZERNE -- Whether a local logger will face criminal charges in connection with a Tuesday accident that killed a snowmobiler will likely be determined by the Warren County district attorney's office after the county Sheriff's Office completes its investigation.
Sheriff's officers continued to interview witnesses Wednesday as part of their inquiry into the death of Gary T. Clark, 50, of Comstock.
Clark was snowmobiling on a trail in the town of Lake Luzerne when a tree felled by Michael S. Vernum, 31, of Lake Luzerne, hit him, according to the Warren County Sheriff's Office.
Clark was on Viele Pond Road, which is not plowed in the winter and is part of the South Warren Snowmobile Club trail system. The road is open to vehicle traffic during warmer months, but is off-limits to vehicles other than snowmobiles in the winter, according to the club.
Clark had snowmobiled north from Old Stage Road, which becomes Viele Pond Road, officials said.
Vernum had permission from a landowner in the area to cut trees, but sheriff's Investigator Doug David said police were working to determine whether he was on the land where he was permitted.
Two people working with Vernum were on the trail and tried to stop Clark as he came around a corner toward where Vernum was cutting a tree, but they were unable to get him to stop in time, police said.
David said investigators were not releasing the details of exactly what happened, or saying whether Vernum had planned for the tree to fall toward the trail instead of away from it.
"I can't release what he did or didn't say at this point," David said.
Vernum could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He is a self-employed logger who was cutting trees in the area for firewood, officials said.
Authorities said Vernum or one of the men with him continued to cut the tree after it hit Clark, before emergency responders arrived. There were also indications that Vernum had felled at least one other tree across the trail in recent days.
Michael Fazio, president of the South Warren Snowmobile Club, said he was interviewed Wednesday by David. He said he could not discuss the case further at the request of the Sheriff's Office.
Fazio said in an interview Tuesday, however, that the snowmobile club has had a number of conflicts with Vernum over the years about him logging on or near snomwobile trails in the Lake Luzerne area, and had warned Vernum about the danger to snowmobilers.
Officials said Clark worked as a contractor.