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Rescuers searching for rafter

August 7, 2012
By LISA M. HOFFMANN - Staff Writer , The Daily News

UPDATE

NORWAY - An Illinois man was the victim of a rafting fatality that occurred at Piers Gorge on Tuesday afternoon.

Dickinson County Sheriff Scott Celello reported that on Tuesday at 1:41 p.m. his office received a 911 call reporting a missing rafter at Piers Gorge on the Menominee River.

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The owner of Northwood's Adventure of Vulcan reported a male and female were thrown from a raft after striking a large rock in the rapids.

Celello said the female was able to make her way out of the rapids, but the male was trapped by the current under the rock and never surfaced.

Rescue operations were immediately started by law enforcement and local fire and rescue teams.

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Northwood's Adventures officials also contacted all area rafting companies for assistance because the river guides are all trained in white water rescue.

"Despite best efforts by rescuers, they were not able to access the area of the rapids the man was reported to be trapped until the water flow was reduced by the dam above the rapids," Celello said.

The dam that was shut down to assist in the rescue operation was at the Little Quinnesec Falls, which is owned by Northbrook Energies.

After the water level and flow were reduced, rescuers were able to reach the rock in the rapids. At 4:16 p.m., rescuers located the victim trapped under the rock.

He was taken to shore and pronounced dead at the scene and identified as 59-year-old Mark Fackler of Mundelein, Ill.

Fackler was wearing a life jacket and helmet at the time of the accident.

Located south of Norway, Piers Gorge features bedrock walls up to 70 feet high. Beneath them, the Menominee River channels through a passage just 80 feet wide.

The river, normally 300 feet wide, rushes and tumbles for about a mile and half over a series of four waterfalls.

Four rafting companies in the area offer guided whitewater trips down the Menominee River.

Dickinson County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the Michigan State Police, Marinette County Sheriffs's Office, Norway Volunteer Fire Department, Breitung Township Fire, North Alert ambulance, Beacon Ambulance, American Red Cross, and river rescuers from area rafting companies.

Sheriff Celello thanked the numerous residents who helped and offered to help in the rescue.

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is lhoffmann@ironmountaindailynews.com.

UPDATE

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say the body of a rafter has been found in the Menominee River along the Michigan-Wisconsin border.

The Dickinson County sheriff's department in Michigan said the 59-year-old man was part of a group rafting on Piers Gorge when the raft tipped over Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities say his body was found later in the day. His name and hometown weren't immediately released.

UPDATE

NORWAY TOWNSHIP - Rescue crews left the scene at 5 p.m., after police scanner radio traffic indicated the victim has been found.

Authorities have not released the name or condition of the rafter. For details, see Wednesday's Daily News.

UPDATE

NORWAY TOWNSHIP - Rescuers are searching for a missing rafter on the Menominee River.

An emergency responder said a group of white water rafters were rafting Piers Gorge Tuesday afternoon and one boat tipped over.

Breitung Township Fire Department was paged to Piers Gorge third pier at approximately 1:45 p.m. Tuesday for a rope rescue.

The Wisconsin Energies dam was drawn down and as of 3:30 p.m. rescuers were still searching for a missing rafter from Northwoods Adventures of Vulcan.

Also responding to the scene were the Michigan State Police, Marinette County Sheriff's Department, Dickinson County Sheriff's Department, North Alert, Beacon Ambulance and Norway Fire Department, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The American Red Cross was also on the way to the scene.

Piers Gorge is located one mile south of Norway, and features bedrock walls up to 70 feet high. Beneath them, the Menominee River channels through a passage just 80 feet wide.

The river, normally 300 feet wide, rushes and tumbles for about a mile and half over a series of four waterfalls.

The area is popular with hunters, anglers and visitors interested in viewing wildlife.

Four rafting companies in the area offer guided whitewater trips down the Menominee River.

Piers Gorge is downstream from Wisconsin Energies' Big Quinnesec Falls dam on Menominee River.

The dam was constructed in 1949. Its maximum generation output 16,600 kilowatts.

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is lhoffmann@ironmountaindailynews.com.

Missing rafter

NORWAY - Emergency response personnel have been paged to Piers Gorge to search for a missing white water rafter.

According to police scanner traffic, a rafter went missing at the third pier and may be trapped under the water.

The incident was reported at approximately 1:45 p.m.

No further information is available at this time.

 
 

 

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