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A 70-year-old Marilla man who left home on a snowmobile Thursday morning was found dead near his crashed snowmobile in the Town of Sheldon early this morning after an extensive search that included deputies, firefighters and members of a snowmobile club.

According to a press release from the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office, Wesley J. Kless of E. Blood Road, Marilla went out for a ride on his snowmobile at 11 a.m. Thursday and was reported missing by a concerned family member some time later.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office began a search for Kless, tracing pings from his cell phone to the area of Route 20 (Big Tree Road) and Dutch Hollow Road in the Town of Sheldon, Wyoming County. At about 3:30 a.m., the Erie County Sheriff’s Department notified the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office that it would be searching in the area. A command post was set up at the Harris Corners Fire Department at Route 20A and Folsomdale Road.

At about 6:15 a.m., snowmobile units from the Erie County Sheriff’s Department found Kless’s 2001 Polaris snowmobile, which had crashed into the side of a 6-foot wide, 4-foot deep drainage ditch on a natural gas line path that Kless had apparently taken after leaving the marked snowmobile trail. Kless’s body was found about 12 feet from the snowmobile.

Kless was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Neil Williams; an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

Assisting with the search for Kless, in addition to both sheriff’s departments, were Erie County Sheriff’s Department’s Air One helicopter, Wyoming County Emergency Services, the Folsom Trailblazers Snowmobile Club and fire departments from Harris Corners, Varysburg, Arcade and Strykersville.

email: aneville@buffnews.com