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DNR Recognizes Eight with Lifesaving Awards

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The DNR is saying thank you to a team of first responders who jumped – and flew – into action to save a missing hunter last fall.

The search and rescue effort happened on Opening Day – November 15th.  A 75 year old hunter was lost in the woods along the Platte River in Benzie County. The man, who is from out-of-state, had hunted in the same area for many years, according to the DNR. Conservation Officers, the U-S Coast Guard, and an MSP K-9 team all came to the rescue. Wednesday eight of them were honored for their Lifesaving efforts in dangerous conditions, during a ceremony at Air Station Traverse City.

Acting Asst. Chief David Shaw with the DNR Law Enforcement Division says, “We just had a combination of the worst weather you can imagine. Started out in the day, gale force was announced – 40 mph sustained winds. Driving rain, which turned to snow later in the afternoon and temperatures hovering in the 20’s.

“There was, I think 9 different agencies that responded to this one incident. And over 25 officers, including the Coast Guard deployed one of their helicopters along with a crew and one of our officers on board,” Shaw says.

After nightfall, the hunter was found in swampy conditions and was stuck. The Coast Guard helicopter was able to find him, then direct ground crews to him. The MSP K-9 was able to track the scent and locate him. Shaw also credits the initial responding Conservation Officer Amanda McCurdy, who he says recognized the need for additional personnel rather quickly, which likely aided in saving the man’s life. The DNR says it’s possible the hunter would not have survived even a few more hours in those conditions.

Shaw adds, “Different agencies with different specialties came into play. Our officers on the ground were able to get ORVs in there to evacuate the individual. MSP was able to get a K-9 in there and find the individual in the dark after the Coast Guard helicopter originally located him. So everybody brought something to the plate. But without the partnership this would not have been successful.”

The DNR says this may be the first time they’ve given this many lifesaving awards for one incident. In all, 11 are receiving the Lifesaving Awards.

Those recognized include:
United States Coast Guard Lt. Commander Frank Wolfe
United States Coast Guard Lt. JG Brandon Skelly

United States Coast Guard AMT2 Ryan Chlosta
United States Coast Guard AST1 Simon Ochoa

Michigan State Police Trooper Jeremy Martin (canine unit)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division;

Sgt. Dan Bigger
CO Patrick McManus
CO Scott MacNeil
CO Sam Koscinski
CO Amanda McCurdy
CO Rich Stowe

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