Fatal Lake Michigan Kayak Accident Shows Value of Life Jackets
A tragedy on Lake Michigan on Monday afternoon is serving as a reminder of the importance of wearing life jackets on the water.
The Michigan DNR says one man was rescued and another drowned Monday after the kayak they had taken out into Lake Michigan overturned in rough waters off of South Barques Point Trail, which is south of Manistique in Schoolcraft County.
At about 3:30 p.m. Monday, regional dispatchers received a call from a man who said his son and a friend had taken a kayak out into Lake Michigan and the kayak had overturned. Strong wind prevented his son and his friend from returning to shore.
He told dispatchers he could see the men bobbing in the water next to the kayak. Neither man had a life jacket and the water temperature was about 50 degrees.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Mike Evink, Michigan State Police troopers from the Manistique detachment, Manistique Public Safety EMS, the Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Office and a Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians tribal officer all responded to the scene.
When state police and EMS personnel arrived, they could see the two men in the water a few hundred yards offshore.
Evink launched his DNR jet ski from the beach. With help from EMS personnel, he was able to locate one of the kayakers in the water. He secured the man to the watercraft and brought him to EMS workers. He was taken to Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique. The kayaker, from Oxford, Mich., was showing signs of shock and hypothermia.
Evink then began to search for the second kayaker, who was the caller’s son. He soon found the man at the bottom of Lake Michigan at a depth of 8 to 10 feet. He made several attempts to dive to reach the man, but he was not successful.
Michigan State Police said a Manistique Public Safety officer sought treatment for water inhalation after attempting to help reach the kayaker.
Evink contacted dispatchers to clearly mark the location of the body and remained in the area until a boat from the sheriff’s office made it to the scene and deputies marked the location with a buoy.
Evink then assisted state police dive team members in recovering the 23-year-old man’s body. He was a resident of Burton, Mich.
“This incident emphasizes the importance of wearing life jackets while boating,” said Lt. Skip Hagy, a DNR regional law supervisor. “Once again, the Great Lakes have proved they are nothing to underestimate, especially on days with high seas.”