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Two Lost Snowboarders Rescued

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

National Park News

Two brothers from Maple City, Michigan, ages 16 and 21, were snowboarding in the dunes late on December 23rd when the temperature dropped by 20 degrees, the wind increased to 45 to 55 mph, and visibility dropped to less than 100 feet. The brothers were not prepared for the change in weather and lacked any survival equipment other than a lighter. They used a cell phone to call out and report that they were lost. District ranger Chris Johnson responded, and, because the extreme conditions added to the urgency, called for assistance from the Glen Arbor Fire Department. A unified command was established and a search team with a quad-runner ATV equipped for dune rescue set out along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Meanwhile, contact was maintained with the brothers via their cell phone. The GPS unit in the phone worked intermittently, showing that they were somewhere near Sleeping Bear Point, several miles north of the point where they’d begun. They were told to head for the shoreline, as the search team was coming for them from that direction. Due to the extreme wind and surf conditions, the ATV was hit by high waves, causing it to freeze and rendering it inoperable. Although the searchers lost contact with the brothers, they found them an hour later on the Lake Michigan shoreline and walked them out two hours after the search began. They were cleared medically, but given warnings about checking weather forecasts before venturing out and about out-of-bounds snowboarding. Park employees on a second ATV later retrieved the original ATV. For additional details, click on the link below.


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