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Girl dies after crash while learning snowmobile safety

OSCEOLA, Wis. -- A 13-year-old Osceola girl died Sunday, a day after the modified  snowmobile she was riding as part of a safety class struck a wall in the Osceola High School parking lot Saturday morning.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials identified the girl as Sarah Thorsland.

She received immediate medical attention and was airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where she died Sunday afternoon.

Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, also the chief of the bureau’s Recreation Education and Enforcement Section, said she was among 42 students participating in Saturday's session and was the 20th to drive the training snowmobile -- modified for dry ground by replacing skis with wheels -- around a slow-speed course in the parking lot.

She was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, Schaller said.

The class is required in order for anyone born after Jan. 1st, 1985, to operate a snowmobile.

The Snowmobile Safety Program began in 1972 and has 879 instructors who are trained and certified to teach by the DNR. Last year, 7,799 people completed similar courses statewide.

Saturday's accident is believed to be the first serious crash or fatality to occur during any DNR safety class, Schaller said