2017-12-14 / News

Undisclosed Settlements Given for Fatal Snowmobile Accident

Settlements have been reached in the lawsuit of the 2010 fatal snowmobile accident on Mackinac Island that claimed the lives of sisters Karen Schwarck, 59, of Trillium Heights and Edith Bonno, 57, of Canton. Snowmobile manufacturer Arctic Cat has paid the estates of the two women who were killed undisclosed amounts.

On February 7, 2010, Mrs. Schwarck, a Mackinac Island cottager, drove a 2002 Arctic Cat 660 snowmobile while her sister, Mrs. Bonno, rode along as a passenger. The two were on the West Bluff taking photographs of the sunset after the winter carnival when their snowmobile went backward through a wooden fence off the cliff, claiming both of their lives.

After the women were reported missing by Mrs. Schwarck’s husband, Donald, that evening around 10 p.m., a search party ensued. The women were found early the next morning around 2 a.m., and it appeared that the snowmobile went off the bluff as Mrs. Schwarck tried to turn around.

The estates of the two women sued Arctic Cat, charging the design and function of the reverse mechanism on the machine caused the accident.

The case has been ongoing for several years. The Mackinac County circuit court ruled in 2014 that there was insufficient evidence for a jury trial, but the Michigan appellate court ruled in January 2016 that the case should go to trial. Arctic Cat appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, but it declined to hear the case in December 2016.

The case was intended for a jury trial in 11th Circuit Court in St. Ignace in September of 2017, but undisclosed settlements were reached, instead.

A settlement for Mrs. Schwarck’s estate was reached September 22, for which 40% was granted each to Mrs. Schwarck’s sons, Matt and Paul. The remaining 20% was awarded to her husband.

The settlement for Mrs. Bonno’s estate was reached November 8.

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