At 10:03 p.m., the Baraga County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a lost hunter in the Durchman Lake area in L’Anse Township. According to the caller, the 57-year old hunter had been missing since earlier that afternoon. Troopers from the L’Anse Post, deputies from the Baraga County Sheriff’s Department and emergency medical personnel immediately began to search for the hunter. Searchers spotted the subject in a swampy wooded area after seeing him flashing a light across a pond. While a trooper established verbal communication with the subject, officers attempted to reach him by wading chest-deep in swamp water, but they were unable to continue due to the heavy swamp and adverse weather conditions (there was 1.5 inches of snow and ice on the ground). Attempts to reach the hunter by vehicle and ATV also failed, as the vehicles could get no closer than one-half mile from the victim because of standing water.
At this point a request was made to the United States Coast Guard’s Traverse City Station for a search-and-rescue helicopter. Meanwhile, an MSP detective sergeant and a civilian friend familiar with the area continued attempts to reach the victim on foot. After wading through chest-deep swamp water, they eventually reached the subject, who was found along with his 29-year-old son who had continued searching after other rescue personnel came out to call for assistance. Both subjects were suffering from serious hypothermia so, the detective sergeant and his friend rendered first aid by removing the subjects’ wet clothing and building a fire, while awaiting the arrival of the helicopter.
Upon arrival, the helicopter airlifted both victims to the hospital. The detective sergeant and his friend had to remain in the swamp until the helicopter could return to airlift them out as well; which did not occur until almost eight hours later. Besides being cold and wet, both the detective sergeant and his friend were otherwise unharmed.