ONTONAGON — What started out as a nice Sunday kayak ride for two Ontonagon men ended up a cold spill into icy waters and an even colder night in the woods for one of them.
The Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Department reported the men set in to the Firesteel River early Sunday afternoon. Undersheriff Gerald Balcomb said the river was very fast with the spring run-off and one of the kayaks overturned and spilled its driver into the water. The second kayaker assisted the spilled man, helping him to shore. The second kayaker continued to the Firesteel bridge where he was picked up.
Police said the first man began walking through the woods while family and friends were notified and searched for him. When they could not locate the man, the OCSD, Michigan State Police, Forest Service and Porcupine Mountains State Park rangers assisted at the scene.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter sighted the lost man, but could not set down. They dropped him blankets, sleeping bag and lights, according to police. The helicopter left about midnight.
Balcomb said the man was unable to get very far because he was without one shoe, the snow was deep, and the woods were thick. The man was also cold and very wet.
Family members located the man, whose name has not been released, between 6 and 7 a.m., Balcomb said. He added that personnel from SONCO Ambulance treated the man on the scene, but he refused any further treatment.