TRAVERSE CITY, Mich – A helicopter crew from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City rescued an injured snowmobiler suffering life-threatening injuries from a remote area in southern Canada Saturday.
Personnel at Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton, Ontario, received a report of the emergency from the Ontario Provincial Police Department and Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Fire Department late Saturday afternoon. Due to the nature of the injuries and close proximity to the U.S. border, JRCC Trenton requested assistance from the Coast Guard’s District Nine Command Center in Cleveland.
The rescue crew from Air Station Traverse City was launched at 6:45 p.m. EST. After a brief fuel stop at the Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Airport, the helicopter crew continued on its mission and reached the injured snowmobiler in a remote area near Chapleau, Ontario, about 10:00 p.m.
The man was located in a heavily wooded area covered in waist deep snow. He had been traveling alone when his injury occurred. Another group of snowmobilers on the same trail found the man. Some of the snowmobilers traveled to a lodge several miles away to phone for help and provide a GPS location, while the others built a fire to keep the man warm.
Despite the deep snow, steep slope, and winds in excess of 25 miles per hour, a member of the Coast Guard aircrew was lowered from the helicopter, which was hovering about 125 feet above the ground, and quickly prepared the man to be hoisted to the aircraft.
The Coast Guard helicopter crew then transported the man to Sault Ste. Marie Airport in Ontario where an awaiting ambulance took him to a nearby hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City operates four helicopters for search and rescue operations for Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and the surrounding Great Lakes region.