Coast Guard suspends search for missing ice climber

MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter file photo

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter file photo

PICTURED ROCKS NATIONAL LAKESHORE, Mich. – The Coast Guard suspended the search today for a missing ice climber who fell from a cliff Tuesday afternoon along the shores of Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The 31-year-old man was climbing with a friend when he fell. After receiving a report of the mishap about 5:15 p.m., Sector Sault Ste. Marie joined an interagency response with National Park Service Rangers and the Alger County Rescue 21 team. The Coast Guard routinely trains with both agencies for similar emergencies, and sent an ice rescue team from Station Marquette and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Traverse City to join the search. Difficult weather conditions prevented the ice rescue team from launching. The helicopter searched into the evening but was unable to locate the missing man, and a second helicopter from Air Station Traverse City returned at first light and completed its search, also with no sightings.

Even with highly specialized safety gear, recreation on and around ice and cold water is inherently dangerous. The Coast Guard urges anyone participating in these activities to remember:

• Take precautions, not chances. Survival time in cold water is greatly diminished.

• Wear a life jacket and dress for the water temperatures, not the air temperatures. Cold water lowers body heat dramatically faster than cold air.

• Whenever possible, carry a VHF-FM radio or personal locator beacon. Remember, freezing temperatures drain batteries quickly.

• Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return, and use the buddy system whenever possible. Every minute counts in a cold-water environment.

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