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Police rescue 37 hikers stranded on small Lake Superior island.

Jul 25, 2018 09:47AM ● Published by Editor

Little Presque Isle (MLive file art)

By Tanda Gmiter of MLive.com - July 25, 2018

MARQUETTE, MI - Marquette County sheriff's deputies had to turn its rescue boat into a shuttle service Tuesday night after a large group of hikers got stranded by high waves at the south end of Little Presque Isle.

The group of 37 people included adults, children and a dog.

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt told WLUC that while Lake Superior was fairly calm when the group went over to the island, 5-foot waves were rolling between the island and the mainland's shoreline when the group called for help around 7:15 p.m. The island sits about 300 yards offshore, northwest of Marquette.

The sheriff's department tapped its special operations unit to handle the island rescue, in cooperation with firefighters from Marquette Township, Chocolay Township and U.S. Coast Guard personnel stationed in Marquette.

The sheriff's boat made several trips between the island and the mainland, with firefighters helping to offload the grateful passengers, authorities told MLive.

Marquette Township Fire Capt. Robert Cochran said despite the short trek it takes to reach the island, a northwest wind like the one that kicked up Tuesday night can create a swift, dangerous current between the island and the mainland. If it's strong enough, it can carry people out and away from shore.

He said the stranded hikers did the right thing by calling for help. Rescue crews would rather head out and pick them up than get an emergency call about people in the water having trouble reaching the shore.

Cochran did caution that anyone planning to go out to Little Presque Isle should check the weather forecast first.

The area departments' unified response effort is the result of careful planning after other rescues and tragedies in that area.

In June of 2016, Justin Schroepfer, 24, from Wisconsin, swam through large waves to help two women who were caught in the current between the island and the mainland.

He died, along with Kaylilyn Tansey, 22, of Grand Ledge. The other woman struggling in the water was able to float to shore.

In 2017, Schroepfer was honored posthumously with a medal for outstanding civilian heroism from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.



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