LaPorte County man seriously hurt when snowmobile hits ditch bank

Information and photo from DNR

DNR photo of the damaged snowmobile at the ditch.

A LaPorte County man was seriously hurt at about midnight Monday when he crashed his snowmobile into a bank, throwing him into a water-filled ditch.

Charles Zbuka, 38, was driving his snowmobile across a large field near Hanna when he hit a large ditch and struck the bank on the other side. Another snowmobiler saw the crash and found Zbuka unconscious and in the water. The witness entered the water and held Zbuka’s head above the surface while he called 911.

LaPorte County Sheriff’s Deputies Doperalski and Masterson were the first to arrive and used a rope to pull Zbuka from the steep banks of the ditch. “The quick actions of the witness and Deputies Doperalski and Masterson were essential, life-saving efforts,” a DNR press release stated.

Officers cited speed, low visibility and alcohol as factors in the accident. Zbuka was traveling at about 40 mph. He was wearing a helmet.

A medical helicopter was unavailable because of bad weather. Zbuka was transported by LaPorte County EMS to LaPorte Hospital and then to South Bend Memorial Hospital, in serious but stable condition.

Other emergency responders were Hanna Fire Department and John’s Garage.

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