Coast Guard rescues man who was stranded on North Fox Island since Monday

9th Coast Guard District NewsCLEVELAND — A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., rescued a 60-year-old man Thursday night from North Fox Island in Lake Michigan near Leelanau Peninsula after he had been stranded there since Monday.

The man kayaked to the island, likely became stranded due to weather, ran out of food, and had been drinking lake water for the past three days.

The Indianapolis man’s son notified the Coast Guard at 3:10 p.m. Thursday that his father was overdue, initiating a search by the MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew as well as a 41-foot Utility Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Charlevoix, Mich., and local response agencies.

Responders located the man’s vehicle and camping equipment at Leelanau State Park in Northport, Mich., where his son reported he was planning to camp until Wednesday or Thursday.

It is believed he left the state park Monday morning for a day trip then weather deteriorated and he chose to remain on North Fox Island until the waves subsided. Wave height was reportedly three to four feet in the area consistently since Monday.

The aircrew was searching the area from Leelanau Peninsula to North Fox Island when they spotted the man and his kayak on the north side of the island.

After hoisting him, the aircrew brought him to Traverse City where emergency medical technicians were waiting to evaluate him for possible further treatment. The aircrew reported he was sunburned and possibly dehydrated.

He reportedly did not have a VHF-FM radio with him, but did have a cell phone. However, the cell phone battery was dead.

“We’re really thankful that this man let someone know where he was going and when he was planning to return,” said Lt. j.g. Adam Saurin of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. “This rescue highlights the importance of leaving a float plan with a friend or family member. His son really is a hero for being proactive and reporting him overdue.”

In addition to filing a float plan, the Coast Guard recommends mariners carry a VHF-FM marine radio at all times as their primary means of communication on the water.

A marine band radio is the best way to contact the Coast Guard or marine response agencies if you are in distress on the water. When a mayday is sent out via VHF-FM radio it is a broadcast, not just a one-to-one communication as when made via phone. When mariners ask for help on a marine radio, any nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance. Channel 16 is the international distress frequency and should be used for emergencies only.

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