Johnny Prince 2011-06-11

Snowmobiler dies 'skipping' pond
ST. MICHAEL: Kotlik man's machine stalled and sank, troopers say.

By KYLE HOPKINS,, Published: June 14th, 2011

A 23-year-old man died Saturday in St. Michael when the snowmachine he was trying to "skip" across a pond stalled and sank, troopers say.

Johnny Prince, of Kotlik, had been visiting family in the Norton Sound village, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Prince and a small group of friends were trying to drive the snowmachine across a pond behind a village school, troopers said. When the snowmachine stalled, Prince was unable to swim to shore, troopers say. He disappeared beneath the water.

The practice of "water-skipping" snowmachines -- or speedily hydroplaning over the surface of lakes and ponds like a giant skipping stone -- is a common, if dangerous, pastime across Alaska. YouTube is peppered with homemade videos of the practice, from Buckland to Kotzebue to Wasilla.

In 2008, a 25-year-old man drowned while trying to skip his snowmachine across the Colville River, according to reports at the time.

The St. Michael incident was reported to troopers at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Prince's body was recovered at 10:43 p.m., said Joseph Katchatag, a St. Michael Village Public Safety Officer. Health aides tried to revive him, but Prince was pronounced dead by Norton Sound Health Corp. employees, according to troopers.

Read The Village, the ADN's blog about rural Alaska, at Twitter updates: Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.