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Officials: Poland man walks ten miles after snowmobile accident, collapses at a Salisbury residence

By GARY LIBERATORE

SALISBURY, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Poland man was taken to the hospital by helicopter Monday morning after authorities say he collapsed in a homeowner's residence near a snowmobile trail in Salisbury.

According to officials, around 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, a man who fire officials said appeared to be in his 40s, knocked on the door of a home on Jerseyfield Road, about a mile from the Ridgerunners Snowmobile Club.

The homeowner saw that the man had a head injury and his hands were bloody and called 911.

Authorities said the man, James J. Sweet, 51, of the Village of Poland, was suffering from severe hypothermia and was possibly delusional, telling the homeowner that he was from Arizona and that he was being attacked by dogs. After that, Sweet collapsed.

When crews arrived on the scene, they say Sweet was not breathing, but that they were able to "bring him back." He was then brought by ambulance to the Ridgerunners Snowmobile Club and airlifted to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica by LifeNet. Later in the evening, State Police would state that Sweet sustained "non life-threatening injuries."

Fire officials say Sweet had no identification on him at the time of the incident, prompting authorities to begin a search of a 30-mile long snowmobile trail for anyone who may have been with him. By late morning, they had found the man's sled and determined that he had been alone. Later, the investigation by New York State Police would determine that Sweet was operating a 2004 Artico Snowmobile north on a trail (C4F) in the Town of Salisbury at an unsafe speed. They say Sweet exited the east side of the trail and struck a tree.

Besides some right front end and right side damage, the sled's recoil starter had been damaged as well. Salisbury Fire Chief Richard Nichols says it appeared that Sweet tried to start the sled repeatedly after the accident, until the recoil starter broke. That's when, Chief Nichols said, they believe Sweet decided to leave his snowmobile and walk.

Authorities said they believe Sweet walked a total of between eight and ten miles from where he had crashed in a wooded area along the trails, to the residence he showed up at Monday morning.

Janet Congdon says she let Sweet into her family's Jerseyfield Road home after he knocked on the door and she saw he was bleeding from his face and hands.

Congdon says Sweet said he didn't know his name or where he lived, but said he thought he lived in Arizona. She also said he kept saying dogs were after him, and dogs were chasing him through the woods and then collapsed to the floor.

Chief Nichols said wild dogs, called coy dogs, are often found in the wooded areas nearby, and that it might account for what Sweet meant when he told Congdon that he was being chased by dogs.

Sweet was airlifted to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica with what State Police said Monday evening were "non- life-threatening injuries."

Saint Elizabeth Medical Center representatives said Sweet was in "good condition" Monday evening.

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