Kayaker hospitalized after capsizing in Lake Michigan near Ludington

Contact: Lt. Joe Molnar, 231-922-6061
Agency: Natural Resources

April 24, 2020

 

A 28-year-old man was hospitalized for hypothermia after his kayak overturned Thursday afternoon in Lake Michigan near Ludington.

The kayaker, who is from Coopersville, Michigan – about 18 miles northwest of Grand Rapids – was using a trolling motor and a heavy battery to propel his kayak while attempting to fish. He told law enforcement officers that he overturned when his kayak took on water from a wave.

At 12:21 p.m. Thursday, the Mason County Central Dispatch received a 911 call about an overturned kayaker who was struggling to stay afloat near where the Pere Marquette River flows into Lake Michigan.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Kyle Publiski responded, with Mason County Sheriff’s Deputies Sgt. Adam Lamb and Spencer Lindbloom. The officers met at the Ludington Marina, where Publiski’s DNR patrol boat was docked. Publiski drove the boat about 150 yards offshore from the Loomis Street Boat Launch, and the officers saw the man struggling to keep his head above water.

The man had been in the water for approximately 10 minutes and was not wearing a life jacket. Publiski said the man displayed early signs of hypothermia, and that the water temperature was 42 degrees Fahrenheit and the air was 43 F. Lamb and Lindbloom pulled the man onto the DNR vessel, the group returned to shore, and a waiting EMS crew transported the man to the hospital.

“Conservation officers are equipped to be successful in rescues like this because of their skills, training and quality equipment that is readily available to them,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Publiski was prepared to assist with this incident because he had prepped his DNR patrol boat earlier in the season, which allowed him to quickly respond to the emergency call. If you choose to go out on the water, please be aware of, and prepared for, the water conditions and always wear your life jacket.”

Fishing, boating and kayaking are allowed under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, but people are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors locally and maintain proper social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Hagler said that DNR conservation officers are following necessary Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommend precautions for law enforcement officers to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.