MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh, fourth from left, Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson, second from right, and Natural Resources Commission chair J.R. Richardson, far right, honor five DNR employees for rescuing two lost snowmobilers. From left to right are Bill Doan, Jimmy Newkirk, Justin Farley, Creagh, David Merk, Emily Pleiness, Olson and Richardson.
ROSCOMMON - Five Michigan Department of Natural Resources employes have been honored "for going above and beyond the call of duty" to rescue two snowmobilers in a late January blizzard in the Porcupine Mountains.
DNR Director Keith Creagh recognized four Porcupine Mountains State Ppark staff members, Justin Farley, David Merk, Jimmy Newkirk and Emily Pleiness, and William Doan, Parks and Recreation western Upper Peninsula district supervisor.
They all received DNR Director's Awards at a Natural Resources Commission meeting last week in Roscommon.
Upon hearing father and son snowmobilers Benjamin M. Jenney and Benjamin M. Jenney Jr ., from Albertville, Minn ., were stranded, the Parks and Recreation group volunteered to head out on snowshoes to search in sub-zero temperatures.
The lost pair had weathered overnight temperatures of -15 degrees, as overcast skies and white-out conditions made an aerial search impossible.
After several hours of off-trail snowshoeing, the searchers made contact with the snowmobilers, who were showing signs of hypothermia but were otherwise conscious and alert.
"This recognition is a tribute to our dedicated personnel in every state park and recreation area throughout Michigan, who are well trained and always prepared to assist in any situation," said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson.
The five also received special recognition plaques from the office of Gov. Rick Snyder.
"We know that DNR employees have a meaningful impact on many of our customers' lives, but it isn't often they actually save those lives," Creagh said.
The DNR rangers were part of a search and rescue effort coordinated by Michigan State Police, in partnership with the Michigan Civil Air Patrol, Ontonagon County Sheriff's Department, Ontonagon County Community Emergency Response Team, Ontonagon County Emergency Manager, U.S. Forest Service, DNR Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard, AmericInn of Silver City, Sled Necks of Wisconsin, Sonco Ambulance and many other local volunteers.