Coast Guard aircrew assists Michigan State Police to locate, rescue man lost in Ontonagon County

9th Coast Guard District News
CLEVELAND — A Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew and the Michigan State Police teamed together to locate and rescue a 20-year-old man on the Firesteel River in Ontonagon County, Mich., Sunday night.

At about 10 p.m., the state police contacted a search-and-rescue coordinator at the 9th Coast Guard District command center to request a helicopter to assist in the search for the man who had reportedly been kayaking or canoeing on the river when his vessel capsized. It was reported that the man made it safely to shore, but his contact with the state police was sparse due to cellular phone coverage and a low battery. The man reported that he was wet, cold and did not know his exact location.

A rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter arrived on scene and located the man. However, they were unable to conduct a hoist due to the tree cover. The aircrew dropped a blanket, radio, strobe light and chemical lights to the man to assist the the state police and other local authorities in finding the man.

“We value the opportunity to assist our fellow first responders with our unique search and rescue techniques and assets namely the hoisting abilities our helicopters have,” said Capt. Stephen Torpey, chief of response for the 9th Coast Guard District. “Our rescue crews stand ready to assist our partner agencies as our resources and time are available.”

Although ice has melted from the waterways and air temperatures may be mild, water temperatures are still extremely cold and can cause hypothermia and death within a matter of minutes. Recreational water users are advised to dress for the water temperature and not the air temperature, and to consider these factors before venturing out onto the water.

The Coast Guard is also reminding boaters to remember these safety tips, to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing:

  • ensure all of your communications equipment and emergency equipment is operable;
  • purchase and carry an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) on board in the event of an emergency;
  • carry a GPS unit on board or, at a minimum, maintain knowledge of local waters;
  • have a properly working VHF-radio with Channel 16 capabilities;
  • know your location at all times to help expedite the Coast Guard’s response in an emergency;
  • tell a family member or friend your travel plans so that if you become overdue, someone can alert authorities

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