13-Year-Old Killed On Snowmobile

COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — A 13-year-old boy was killed after his snowmobile launched and hit a group of trees in Sherburne County.

According to the county sheriff’s department, Mitchell Johnson, of Coon Rapids, Minn., was driving a snowmobile near the Sand Dunes State Forest parking lot in Orrock Township Sunday afternoon.

The sheriff’s department said it appeared Johnson was crossing the lot when he came upon a snow bank.

His snowmobile left the ground and landed at a high rate of speed. Johnson crashed into trees after landing.

Rescue crews arrived at the scene. They found Johnson unconscious. He had sustained head injuries. Crews attempted to perform CPR, but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

He was wearing a helmet and did have a snowmobile license. His family doesn’t agree with the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office’s report, saying Johnson wasn’t going too fast and was not operating the snowmobile carelessly. They say he simply hit a bump and went airborne.

Johnson was a student at Coon Rapids Middle School where they are grieving the loss of a classmate.

“Of course close friends are very sad,” said Dr. Annette Ziegler, the school principal. “We’re all very sad. It’s a huge, tragic loss for our school and our school community.”

Teachers and grief counselors were there to help, but their only comfort may have been how it happened.

“Kids right away talked about how much he adored being a part of snowmobiling and doing those things,” said Ziegler.

In another fatal Minnesota snowmobile accident over the weekend, 31-year-old Christopher Ebensteiner, of Sartell, was killed when two snowmobiles collided on a frozen lake in Mahnomen County on Saturday.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • concerned

    I hope that CBS will allow the family time to grieve, and not run this on the air repeatedly.

    • Fed Up

      Something tells me that they’re not watching television.

    • Michelle Kettner

      actually they are not they have been calling all day and we have had to correct much of their so called information. My brother does not deserve the media using his death as a means of getting a paycheck.

  • JamieinMN

    Oh that is so sad. To the family, I am so sorry for your loss. :-(

  • Pyro

    So sorry for the family’s and friend’s loss. Nobody should ever have to go through this sort of thing. Our children are supposed to bury us, not the other way around (I do understand how reality works).
    This should serve as a reminder to everyone that children need guidance (not sure who might have been with him at the time) and even the best safety equipment is fallible and not a suitable substitute for sound judgment.
    Again, my condolences to the family. May he rest in God’s care.

  • Cindy

    My condolences to the friends and family for there tragic loss. I have children myself and can only imagine the pain they are suffering. May you find comfort in one another at this terrible time.

  • sosad

    I also lost a friend in a snowmobile accident 20 yrs ago! That and this is why I will not allow my children to go snowmobiling! A 13 yr old shouldn’t be driving these powerful machines! My heart goes out to this family in their time of grief, they are in my thoughts and prayers!

    • ed

      Yes, snowmobiles should be banned, there should be laws banning anyone from riding them so no one will ever die again. I can’t believe the helmet didn’t save his life. Motorcycle rides who wear helmets don’t die.

      • Callie's Mom

        I wouldn’t go as far as banned, just be more careful.

      • Mr. Ed

        BAN THEM! BAN THEM ALL! I think we should ban electricity because it can kill people! Ban water so people do not drown!

      • sosad

        don’t know where you are getting that I said they should be banned? i didn’t if you re-read my comment you will see that. I said i will not allow my children on them, they are 14 and 10, some things are ment for adults not children!

    • Hannah

      I agree that 13 is too young to be driving any type of motorized vehicle including ATVs and snowmobiles!

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  • Cindy

    I am terribly sorry for the families loss. We had a similar incident years ago that put our son in Intensive Care for over a week. I cannot help but to feel that these powerful machines are just too much for anyone under the age of 18. I wish that our State would reconsider as even wiith training, it is just too much power for these young kids.

  • Shelly Thompson

    Yes, and cars should be banned so that anyone driving one will never die again, and horses should be banned so anyone riding one doesn’t fall off and hit their head and die. Really Ed? And yes, believe it or not, even motorcyclists that wear helmets die. They’re preventative measures…but surely not bullet-proof.

  • JamieinMN

    Really ED?!?!?!!! We should ban PEOPLE! Because PEOPLE kill PEOPLE as well!
    And chicken bones….yea those too.

  • mwern

    This is so sad! I feel it’s the parents responsibility to protect there kids from this type of thing happening. The kids have the rest of there lives to experience “Adult Toys”.
    This isn’t any different than driving an automobile and the Driving Age is 16 yrs., (sitll to young in my opinion), for a reason.

  • Momma of 2

    I am so very sorry to hear of this tragic news. Just a couple of weeks ago we lost a loved one in a snow mobile accident as well. He was only 23 years old.

    No matter the age it’s hard to loose a loved one to such a senseless accident, but it seems extra painful when they are so young.

    May you find comfort in the memories you have made and hold in your heart. Prayers are being sent to his family and friends.

  • Fed Up

    To all the complainers: Golly, I wish my government would outlaw and ban everything because it will all kill you.

    Grow up! People do stuff like snowmobiling and know that it’s dangerous (notice he was wearing a helmet?) but they do it because it’s fun. I’d rather my children and myself enjoy life and die happy. Use common sense, wear protective gear, don’t take chances but don’t stay indoors doing crossword puzzles all day long. Get out there and LIVE!


    This reminds me of a law that people wanted passed about walking on ice less than 4″ thick. But Jesse ventura said “You can’t outlaw everything. It’s a way to weed out the idiots.” Well I don’t blame the child because he is to young to know better but i do blame the parents. It’s plan and simple they are idiots and i guess they learned a lesson the hard way. We don’t let children that young drive cars but we will put them behind a machine that will do 100 mph with little to no protection and be ok with that. It’s just a darn shame that we lost a young life.

    • tonya

      Bandit I would have to agree with you, but, just because the machine goes 100 mph doesn’t mean you have to go that fast. I myself have a teenage son. (14 years) We have drilled it into his head slow down and use caution. Bad accidents do happen. Prayers going out to both families that lost loved ones.

  • torreygrammy

    I am that young boy’s aunt. Thank you all for your prayerful comments. To those who made negative comments, remember.. the family is grieving. Please save your insensitive comments for private conversations. You have a right to your opinion, but you don’t know the whole story, and you only add to the grief. Again, thanks to those who show concern.

    • Kay Winkelman

      So sorry for you loss! Its a parents worse nightmare and I can only imagine what they are going through. Please let them know that they are in our prayers! When my son came home and told me about the accident, we all teared up and still are tearing up today. It is so tragic, so sad that this little boys life ended so early. Please give his family a hug and tell them that it is from the family, who’s son was at the scene of the accident….

  • Kay Winkelman

    My son and his friend were at the scene of the accident, They were the only 2 people there other than than the father and little boy. He called 911 for the father and stayed with the father to help console him while they were working on his son. My heart goes out to everyone in the Johnson family, It was a terrible accident. Not the fault of the snowmobile or the snowmobiler. Just a tragic ending to a little boys life. To the family “My heart goes out to you, May God take your pain and help it subside, My deepest sympathies, you will be in my thoughts and prayers”

  • Kay

    People should be posting comments to help the grieving parents, not be condoning them for letting a child ride a snowmobile! We parents can not always keep our children safe no matter how hard we try! We could wrap them in bubble wrap and never let them move and somehow they would hurt themselves. It is not the fault of the parents nor the fault of anyone. Snowmobiling can be dangerous, but everything is dangerous, Walking across the street can kill you, taking a shower can kill you. so lay off the poor Father, he taught him well. And as a parent that is all you can do! The boy was not inexperienced, Just happens, every day of our lives it happens to someone and we can’t stop it no matter what you ban, how many helmets you wear, or how safe you perceive yourself to be. You never are safe, It happens to be a fact of life. A tragic fact but still a fact!!

  • Michelle Kettner

    I am his sister and I am requesting the same. Please give the family time to heal. After all we just lost an amazing child.

  • Northern Minnesota

    How rude Billy.

  • torreygrammy

    Michelle, this is me in Utah. I am TorreyGrammy. Well said MIchelle. And Kay, tell your son thanks for being there in our family’s hour of grief. And thanks for your comforting words.

  • Ron B

    To the family,

    In this moment of loss, where the brittleness of life is so apparent. May you accept the kind words of a stranger to minister to you in your hour of grief.

    May the lord God almighty who holds us close in life and closer in death. Cause Mitchel to be be drawn into the light of his presence, make his face to shine upon him and may his eternal light be upon him always. May the spirit of The Loving God comfort you and your own and grant you peace…..

  • Mr. O

    Mitchel was a student from kindergarten through grade 5 at Hoover Elementary where I am the school principal. All throughout those years we saw the very strong and deep bond and affection between this young man and his father. I am deeply saddened by this tragic accident and would honestly hope everyone would express their love and sympathy at the sudden loss of this fine young man. I am grateful for the many years and many wonderful memories we had with Mitchel and his father!

  • MomOf4

    Michelle & family,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a brother or a son.

    Kay Winkleman, thank you for teaching tour family about compassion & for modeling it.

    To everyone else, a young, innocent boy died while his daddy stood by helplessly. It doesn’t matter how you feel about snowmobiles. Be respectful & have empathy for this family. This isn’t the place to voice your opinions.

    I teach in Anoka-Hennepin, in Coon Rapids. I didn’t know Mitchell, but my heart breaks for all who did. What a tragic loss.

  • MomOf4

    Mr O,

    Well said! Thank you for you dedication to childrem & families!

    • Michelle Kettner

      I want to thank everyone for the loving kind words to our family. We can feel the love and prayers that have been coming our way. To the ones who were at the sceen of the accident I personally thank you for staying with his father and helping in every way that you did. Again our sincere thanks in all the support you have shown. What an amazing community my brother lived in.

  • Kelly tellinghusen (Griep)

    I am a mother of a friend of his…Mitch you will be missed by all R.I.P. To all of you who say he shouln’t be on that snowmobile you didn’t know him he was doing what he loved being outdoors and spending time with his dad!!! My thought and prayer go out to the whole family and his dad :) He will be one missed, loved young man.

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