Story of Shipwreck Sole Survivor Lives on After His Death

A man known for being the only person to survive a shipwreck almost 50 years ago passed away today.

Dennis Hale died early this morning from natural causes.

He was the only one to survive the Daniel J. Morrell shipwreck in Lake Huron, rescued after nearly two days in a life boat.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Erin Malone look back at the remarkable story of survival.

"I think he’s sort of an inspiration and he’s gone now," Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society development officer Sean Ley said.

Dennis Hale, the sole survivor of a shipwreck on Lake Huron, passed away this morning from natural causes.

"He was ill and we knew he was ill and it wasn’t the Morrell that killed him," Ley said. "He survived that."

In November 1966, the wreck of the Daniel J. Morrell freighter killed 28 crewmen, but not Dennis.

"Dennis fetched up on the life raft on Port Austin reef after 26 hours in the open life raft like that in the terrible storm and the coast guard found him," Ley said.

After the wreck, Dennis struggled with sole survivor syndrome, but found relief in telling his story.

That’s how he met Sean Ley at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society in the Upper Peninsula.

"When I finally get to meet this gentleman and he’s no longer a legend in a book and he impressed me as the most down to earth person ever," Ley said. "He told his story to groups of people after that and that led him to leading a more normal life."

After years of friendship, it’s a sad day for Sean, but he knows Dennis’ story will live on.

"The good of it, a shipwreck is a very terrible thing. People die in shipwrecks. Families are affected forever," Ley said. "However, if there are survivors, they kind of get a glimpse into another world. When you talk to them from their perspective, it reminds us how precious life is."

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