Friday, Oct 29, 2010
A 13-hour-long, multi-agency search culminated with the rescue and saving of a local man earlier this week. A suicide alert was issued for him on Saturday, October 23rd. Early the next morning, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department advised the park that his wife had received a text message from him saying that he was cold, wet and shaky and that he wanted to be found. Ranger and deputies conducted a hasty search of an area pinpointed by the GPS tracker in the cell phone, but were unable to find him. An NPS ISC operation was put into effect and the search intensified as the day went on, eventually involving eleven agencies, numerous volunteers, and six dog teams from two canine SAR organizations. Because the man repeatedly turned his cell phone on and off during the day and kept moving, his location could not be pinned down using GPS. The weather was cool (around 50º), rainy and windy, complicating the search effort and making it impossible to employ aircraft. Grid, horse, vehicle, water and canine search teams were employed over the steep, rugged and wet terrain. The search eventually moved from NPS to state park land, where the man was found just prior to nightfall. He evacuated to St. Croix Regional Medical Center, where he was reported to be in advanced stages of hypothermia. Doctors believe that he might not have survived for longer than another two hours if he hadn’t been found.