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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Snowmobiler Found Safe After Eight Hours Walking In Woods

The determined search efforts of DNR Conservation Warden Dave Oginski and Marinette County Deputy Steve Schmidt probably saved the life of a snowmobiler lost and on foot in the vast wilderness of the Marinette County Forest northwest of Athelstane for nearly eight hours on the frigid night of Friday, Feb. 14. Oginski said the temperature was 17 below when they located the man walking along a trail at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday, cold but unharmed.

It’s a good thing he kept all his snowmobile gear on, including his helmet, and it’s a good thing he kept on walking, Oginski declared. If he had sat down to rest the result could have been a lot different.

The hearing impaired man did not carry a cell phone. He, his wife who is also deaf, and a friend had set out on snowmobiles from their cabin in the Caldron Falls area Friday evening. At about 9 p.m. the man’s snowmobile ran out of gas. His friend left on his machine, intending to get gas and return to the couple. But he got confused and couldn’t locate them.

At about 10 p.m. the wife left on her machine, also intending to come back for her husband and his idled snowmobile. She too was unable to find him again.

Oginski said he and Schmidt were called out at about 3 a.m. By then, Marinette County Deputy Craig Kasten was at the cabin with the wife and friend, trying to narrow down the search area.

Oginski said snowmobile clubs generally do their grooming at night for several reasons, among them that there is less traffic on the trails and lights make the groomer and the snowmobiles more visible to each other at night. So he began by contacting clubs to see which trails had been groomed that evening, and if they had seen anything of the man and his snowmobile. They had not, but by eliminating the trails that were groomed they were able to narrow the search down to about 19 or 20 miles of trail. He said there are at least 50 miles of trail in the vast area from High Falls to west of Goodman and east toward Old A and Benson Lake, where the man was finally found.

He and Schmidt set out on their snowmobiles to search those miles of trail. Oginski found the man walking along a trail at about 5:30 a.m. The search was over, and there was a happy ending.

With the cold temperatures, thankfully he had kept moving and kept the blood flowing and was able to keep himself warm. I got him out on my snowmobile, Oginski said.

The DNR advises snowmobilers to travel the trails in groups, stay on marked trails, and make sure to carry a cell phone or GPS. They should also carry a first aid kit, a flashlight, a compass and a map.

Experienced snowmobilers advise planning out the route on a trail map and fueling up before starting out. They also advise carrying matches, and say you should bring along a spare belt just in case.


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