Two snowmobilers from southern Wisconsin died when their snowmobiles broke through the ice on Lake Nokomis in the town of Nokomis early Sunday morning, according to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said the snowmobilers were not on a designated snowmobile trail.

David N. Erdman, 31, of Hubertus, and Kurtis W. Sher­nell, 27, of Hustisford, died as a result of the accident. A third snowmobiler, Austin J. Zillmer, 26, of Sussex, survived the incident.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call of snowmobiles and riders in the water on Lake Nokomis near River Road in the town of Nokomis about 3:09 a.m. Sunday.

Upon emergency crews arriving at the scene, it was learned that three snowmobiles, with three riders total, had gone into the water. One rider was able to get out and make the 911 call. The other two riders were deceased.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office  was assisted by Nokomis Fire Department and First Responders, Little Rice Fire Department, Oneida County Emergency Medical Services and Medical Examiner, Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services and Dive Team, Newbold Fire Department, Spirit Ambulance and the Department of Natural Resources.

Area snowmobile trail officials are reminding riders to stay off the lakes until crossings are marked with barrels and stakes. Some lakes have thin ice due to a heavy layer of snow and slush on the ice. Officials say the snow insulates the ice. There also has been a lack of cold weather this winter.

While the unsafe lake crossings and some wet swamps have limited snowmobilers access to certain areas, trails in general  remain in very good to excellent condition due to more than 18 inches of snow on the ground across Vilas, Oneida and Forest counties.

Trails were in good to very good condition during the holidays although hampered by more than 1 inch of rain, but colder temperatures and 8 inches of snow last Tuesday have helped groomers.

Some swamps are still wet, however, and segments of trails may be closed until those swamps freeze up. 

Due to the poor ice conditions, the Eagle River Area Fire Department has announced it will not construct the Eagle River Ice Castle this winter due to thin ice on Silver Lake. Two weeks ago, volunteers cleared ice from a portion of Silver Lake in hopes that Mother Nature would build thicker ice on the lake, but warm temperatures and rain prevented that from happening.

“It is probably a nonfactor at this point,” said Fire Chief Michael Anderson. “The weather has not been kind to our effort.”

The slush on the ice and thin ice also has hampered ice fishermen and -women, limiting access to area lakes. Local sport shop owners urge anglers to check the ice depth as they move across the ice.

Lakes with channels, such as those on the Eagle River and Three Lakes Chain of Lakes, are particularly dangerous when there is thin ice.