Coast Guard hoists 4 people from Lake Michigan in 2 storm-related cases Sunday

Hoist trainingCHICAGO – The Coast Guard safely hoisted 4 persons from Lake Michigan in two separate, storm-related cases Sunday.

At approximately 5:25 p.m. EST, watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan command center in Milwaukee received a call, via Leelanau County 911, from a man stating that he and his 33-year-old brother were kayaking near the Manitou Islands in northern Michigan when a severe storm hit the area. He was able to transit to South Manitou Island before the storm hit, while his 33 year-old brother did not. The reporting source provided the Coast Guard with a last-known GPS location of his brother.

A watchstander issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and notified Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City and Coast Guard Station Frankfort. After the storms passed, crews from both stations launched and commenced searching. In addition, the Coast Guard Cutter Alder, already underway, was diverted to assist in the search.

Meanwhile, watchstanders contacted the missing person’s cell phone carrier. Based on a last ping position, Coast Guard crews were able to design a search pattern.

The aircrew arrived on scene at about 8 p.m. and began a shoreline search of the islands as dusk was setting in. When they learned that the Cutter Alder arrived on scene and located the missing person’s empty kayak about one and a half miles northeast of South Manitou Island Gull Point, they diverted and continued to search in that area. Within a few minutes, they spotted the kayaker in the water, flashing a light.

A rescue swimmer was deployed to assess the man, who later stated he had been in the water for about six hours. The man was not injured, but was suffering from hypothermia and was wearing a life jacket. He was assisted into a rescue basket and hoisted up into the helicopter, taken back to the Air Station and transferred to awaiting EMS.

The boat crew from Station Frankfort arrived at South Manitou Island to transport the other brother back to the station, along with the two kayaks.

The Coast Guard reminds those recreating on the waters to always check weather conditions and the forecast prior to setting out, and to keep an eye on the sky at all times. In addition, always wear a life jacket and carry a signaling device to increase your chances of being seen and rescued should you run into trouble.

“The fact that the individual was wearing a life jacket absolutely increased his ability to survive the storm and cold water temperatures, commented Capt. Amy Cocanour, commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Additionally, his brother was able to provide the Coast Guard with GPS locations to reduce our search area, and the individual had a signaling device to get the helicopter’s attention. This rescue serves as a reminder that boaters should always be prepared for the worst situation, including checking the weather prior to setting out.”

In another case, in central Michigan, three people were hoisted by an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Muskegon after their 28-foot recreational boat became disabled as yesterday’s storm front was approaching.

The three individuals were about a half-mile south of Little Sable Point, south of Ludington. Although their vessel was anchored, they were drifting toward sandbars. Coast Guard Station Ludington and the local police marine unit were unable to launch due to the 6-8 feet seas.

The Air Station crew arrived on scene at about 4:30 p.m. and safely hoisted the three people and transported them to Muskegan Airport.

The vessel later sank. Plans were being made today to salvage the vessel.

These two cases were among 17 storm-related throughout the Lake Michigan region to which the Coast Guard responded Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening. Local agencies and good Samaritans assisted in the responses.

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