Jon Tennessen was staying at a local resort, when he got called in last week to help with the search for two missing anglers.
"We had some pretty adverse conditions," he said, understating the situation.
It was blizzard-like conditions. In three days, close to 17 mm of snow or rain fell, as the temperature hovered around the freezing point
The anglers -- one man was 75 years-old, while the other was 43 -- were in a 16 ft. aluminum boat with a 25 hp outboard, when it ran out of gas last Tuesday. The OPP asked for the public's help in trying to locate them the following day, Wednesday, October 10.
While the fishermen had a phone with them, the battery died after five calls. What caused some confusion for the searchers was a description of the area, where the anglers thought they were located, when their outboard died.
The pair were able to get a fire started, but they weren't able to keep it going.
"Given the weather circumstances, the extreme high winds and blizzard conditions with rain and snow, it just wasn't able to happen," Tennessen continued.
In the end, the anglers had been out for three nights in the snowstorm. As a result, the older man was suffering from hypothermia when he was found, while the younger one was treated for dehydration and exposure to the cold.
The anglers were eventually found north of Falcon Island, near Lilly Island, almost 40 miles from where they thought they were, when they called for help.
"Given the circumstances of spending that much time on an island -- in that kind severe weather -- that they both survived and walked away from it is an absolute miracle," he emphasized.
They were found with help from:
- Coast Guard
- community volunteers
Along with boats, helicopters and airplanes were also used. Along with Tennessen, a particular thanks goes out to:
- Ryan Kirkrude
- Nick & Don Beyak,
- Rob Gate,
- Dean Sr. & Dean Jr. and
- Mike Gate
Tennessen emphasizes the importance of staying safe and being prepared on the water these days, given the early snow and cold temperatures.
"I really stress to people to be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice they may be making, if they're not prepared for that lake," he said.
On the lake in the fall, boaters should always:
- take a paper map with them,
- have a way to make a fire,
- have a flashlight,
- take something extra to to eat,
- have a space blanket and
- a blaze orange vinyl or plastic tarp to signal and to keep the rain and snow off.