Conservation officer assists Iron snow crash rescue

UP field reports

A sampling of field reports from Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in the Upper Peninsula:

Jan. 24-Feb. 6


Conservation officer Anna Viau was called to assist with a snowmobile accident in northern Iron County. A man from out of state had hit a stump next to the trail and was knocked off his machine, landing on his back. Thankfully, he was riding with friends, who were able to call 911 and keep him warm until help arrived.

CO Viau met EMS and Iron County Search and Rescue at a nearby crossroad. While Search and Rescue were preparing their enclosed rescue sled, CO Viau transported an emergency medical technician to the crash scene on her snowmobile. Upon arrival to the scene, CO Viau met an Iron County deputy and assisted the EMT with her initial assessment of the patient. Due to the location of the crash, a helicopter was called to transport the patient to a nearby hospital. CO Viau assisted with guiding the helicopter into a nearby clearing, then helped load the patient into the helicopter. The scene was cleared without further incident.

CO Jeremy Sergey and Sergeant Mark Leadman were patrolling Witch Lake in Marquette County when they came across three unattended tip-ups with no identification on them. The COs triggered the tip-ups and waited for over 20 minutes to see if anybody would check them. The COs then followed fresh footprints from the tip-ups to a residence and eventually contacted an individual who stated he set the tip-ups the night before but has been checking them all day every 10 minutes.

When the COs asked the individual to pull one of his tip-ups, the individual had to use an ice spud to break through the ice that froze the tip-up in place. Once the tip-up was pulled, a large walleye was found on the treble hook that was nearly dead. The individual was issued a citation for unlabeled tip-ups and a warning for unattended tip-ups.

CO Jeremy Sergey, Sgt. Mark Leadman, and Chocolay Township Police Department Sgt. Carrick conducted a speed enforcement patrol on Trail 417 in Chocolay Township. More than 50 snowmobiles were observed with a high number of violations occurring. Numerous groups were stopped for speeding in the posted 35 miles per hour residential area. Three citations were issued for speeds ranging from 61 to 71 mph in the posted 35 mph zone.

CO Josh Boudreaux assisted Michigan State Police K-9 handler Mack Schlict with a snowmobile crash investigation in western Marquette County. The pair rode snowmobiles out to the crash site and determined through information received in the interviews and through the indicators at the site that, while negotiating a curve, the snowmobile drifted from the hard-packed trail into the soft snow and then rapidly accelerated into a cluster of trees where it came to rest just off the trail. The female was treated at a local hospital for forearm injuries and released.

COs John Kamps, Cody Smith, and Josh Boudreaux were patrolling snowmobile Trails 8 and 5 in western Marquette County when they were dispatched to a snowmobile personal injury accident. The investigation revealed that the male rider and his friend had been jumping their snowmobiles across a county road when on the third attempt the rider overshot his landing. After travelling 33 yards through the air the snowmobile impacted the flat ground with enough force to fracture the rider’s right leg.

COs Cody Smith and Josh Boudreaux were on patrol when dispatch aired a report that alleged three people had fallen into the icy water at Canyon Falls. The call was placed by two hikers who had hiked into the main falls and had seen a lady in the water at the bottom of the ravine. The pair of hikers were able to pull the woman out of the water but needed help to get her out of the remote location. The Baraga County Sheriff’s Department, MSP troopers, L’Anse Fire, Covington Fire, and Bay EMS responded to the scene and began to treat the patient’s head wounds and hypothermia.

When COs Boudreaux and Smith arrived on scene, they quickly loaded their snowmobiles with the sleeping bags they keep in their trucks in case of emergency and snowmobiled into the scene of the accident. The COs handed over their sleeping bags for the patient and began to pack a trail for the rescue Argo. The patient was safely extracted from the scene and transported to Baraga County Memorial Hospital for treatment. The individual suffered serious head wounds and hypothermia but is expected to make a full recovery. Investigation by Baraga deputies on scene discovered she was hiking alone and not with two other people like she had stated.

COs Josh Boudreaux and John Kamps were patrolling western Marquette County on snowmobile when they encountered a pair of snowmobilers who were in a bit of a predicament. One of the snowmobilers had been on empty for the last 20 miles and was unsure of how to get to the nearest gas station and unsure if he would be able to make it. The COs gave the riders directions to the nearest fuel station and gave them some spare fuel they had been carrying. About half an hour later, the pair returned and told the COs that he had a 10 gallon tank, and his snowmobile took 9.8 gallons of gas at the pump. he group was very thankful for the extra fuel and the assistance.

CO John Kamps was sitting near a boating access site when he saw an individual quickly park his car and begin walking out on the ice without ice fishing equipment. Thinking that it was strange, the CO followed the individual out on the ice and realized that he was walking out to an ice shanty that was tucked in a small cove. When the individual made it to the ice shack another individual stepped out from it. The CO quickly contacted the individuals, being only a short distance behind.

After a brief conversation it was determined that the guy in the ice shanty had been fishing by himself that day and he had caught a good number of perch. When the CO asked if he could see the perch the angler did not respond. The CO again asked to see the perch and the angler showed him his bucket. Inside the bucket the CO counted 53 perch, 28 over the legal limit. A citation was issued for possessing an over limit of perch.


CO Robert Freeborn worked the annual fishing derby on Indian Lake. The derby this year was the busiest on record with 571 registered anglers from all over the state. As CO Freeborn made his way around the lake, he was thanked by several anglers for being out there and keeping an eye on the derby. As CO Freeborn checked one group of anglers, he observed the son of an angler slip and fall on the glare ice and hit his face. CO Freeborn assisted the father with medical needs and eventually transported the father and son to shore for further medical treatment due to a possible broken nose and fractured eye socket.

CO Freeborn and Corporal Mike Hammill patrolled the second day of the derby which was much quieter. While overall compliance was good, the COs did locate an angler in the derby fishing with too many lines and a citation was issued. The COs also assisted the derby officials with a dispute over the winning pike, which was worth $1,400.

CO Mark Zitnik was less than five minutes into his snowmobile patrol when he came upon a snowmobile accident in which a young man was discovered lying in the woods, alongside the trail, and unable to move. It appeared that the 15-year-old nonresident was driving too fast for conditions on the rough trail and struck a tree. The CO rendered first aid with a passerby who was an off duty EMT. Shortly thereafter, Alger County’s Rescue 21 and EMS were on scene and transported the snowmobiler to UP Health Systems Marquette where he had to have emergency surgery before being airlifted to the University of Michigan Hospital for further care.

CO Cole VanOosten was on snowmobile patrol of northern Luce County when he located a coyote snare set up on a remote lake. A search of the area revealed nine total snares around the lake. The snares each had several violations including a non-relaxing lock, no deer stop, and no trapper’s identification attached. The next morning, COs Justin Vinson and VanOosten waited for the trapper to check his traps. Contact was made with the trapper and he admitted to setting up the snares and led the COs to all the snares he had set. The trapper stated that he was unfamiliar with the laws governing snaring, so the COs were able to provide him with a furbearer’s digest and explain the laws to him. A citation was issued to the individual for using an illegal snare and a warning was issued to him for using an untagged snare.

Feb. 7-Feb. 20


COs Brian Lasanen and Doug Hermanson conducted a sound meter patrol in Houghton County on Trail 3. The COs tested four sleds and found two sleds that were well over the legal decibels of 88. The other two were close but not over 88 decibels. The COs cited the two very loud snowmobile operators.

CO Ethen Mapes was patrolling an intersection near the Porcupine Mountains ski hill when he observed a snowmobile fail to stop at a stop sign before crossing a road. CO Mapes attempted to stop the snowmobiler but was unable to get around the subject until after they had run through yet another intersection. Upon contacting the rider, CO Mapes noticed that the subject was visibly intoxicated. After field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test which read .18 blood-alcohol content, over twice the legal limit, CO Mapes placed the rider under arrest for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated. The rider was lodged at the Ontonagon County Jail.

CO Jenni Hanson assisted a MSP trooper with a felonious assault incident in Bruce Crossing. An elderly male with a diminished mental status pointed a handgun at his son’s head. The officers responded, deescalated the situation, and brought the elderly male to the hospital for evaluation.

CO Zach Painter responded to a call of three horses loose and running down highway M-28 near Wakefield. CO Painter and a trooper from the MSP Wakefield post were able to guide the horses off the highway and lead them back to the barn that they escaped from without incident.

CO Jared Ferguson was patrolling Dickinson County when dispatch reported a domestic dispute inside a motor vehicle close to his location. CO Ferguson responded and was first on the scene and secured the area. The suspect fled on foot into a surrounding neighborhood. Information was received that the suspect obtained a city cab and headed west on U.S. 2. A responding MSP trooper located the vehicle and apprehended the suspect.

CO Jeremy Sergey was heading out to check a lake in Marquette County when he discovered several bags of household trash dumped all over the road heading into the lake access site. After digging though several bags of cigarette butts and old lottery tickets, CO Sergey was able to identify to whom the trash belonged. CO Sergey went to the individual’s residence and obtained a confession after a very short interview. A citation was issued to the individual for littering.

CO John Kamps came upon a snowmobile versus logging truck accident only seconds after it happened. Witnesses say the rider stopped and looked for traffic but then continued out into the path of the oncoming logging truck. His snowmobile was struck in the very rear portion causing the rider to be thrown off the machine where he landed on the pavement nearly 70 feet away. The subject was transported by EMS to UP Health Systems Marquette where he was admitted into the intensive care unit.


CO Steve Butzin was conducting a night patrol on Little Bay de Noc. While on patrol CO Butzin encountered several anglers with lines that were not being attended, one being a tip-up that had a flag up for over 35 minutes prior to CO Butzin making contact. Upon contacting the anglers, they admitted to setting the lines and stated they were going to check them when they woke up that morning. CO Butzin explained how lines must be in immediate attendance. Two anglers were issued citations for fishing without lines in immediate control.

CO Andrea Dani, Alger County EMS, and sheriff’s office deputies responded to a call of a snowmobile versus tree personal injury accident. Evidence at the scene indicated that a combination of speed and lack of knowledge of the trail led to the accident. The operator was transported by EMS to Munising Memorial Hospital where he unfortunately succumbed to his injuries.

COs Chris Lynch and Steve Butzin conducted a meat processor inspection and located a suspicious record. The COs followed up with the hunter who confessed to taking a 5-point buck without a license. The antlers and gun were seized, and a report will be submitted to the Delta County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

CO Cole VanOosten received a call of a personal injury accident that occurred on a snowmobile in northern Luce County. CO VanOosten was first on scene and assisted with providing medical treatment and transporting the patient off the trail and into the ambulance. It was the rider’s first time riding a snowmobile and he had just rented the snowmobile earlier that morning. The rider made it approximately 30 miles before he hit a tree.

Conservation officers are fully licensed peace officers who enforce laws related to fish and wildlife, state parks, trails and forests, and outdoor recreation activities such as off-road vehicle use, snowmobiling and boating. They also are first responders to a variety of natural disasters and emergencies.


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