Lansing — People come to Michigan state parks to enjoy the great outdoors, but sometimes unexpected circumstances can threaten visitors’ safety.
For their actions on three such occasions this year, several DNR Parks and Recreation employees were honored with the division’s Lifesaving Award at the Nov. 10 Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting.
At about 3 a.m. on June 12, park rangers Gerard Molaison and Travis Hall were notified by Central Dispatch in Roscommon County that two individuals had capsized their kayaks, about 1,000 yards offshore, in South Higgins Lake State Park. The rangers were able to locate the individuals, pull them into the rangers’ boat, check them for hypothermia and safely return them to their campsites.
On June 28, Grand Haven State Park Supervisor Andrew LundBorg, Lead Ranger Arica Johnson and Park Ranger Sarah Loughman were working at the park when red flag conditions were in effect. LundBorg and his staff were notified of multiple swimmers in distress. Most of the swimmers made it back to shore, but they saw one young man had been swept beyond the swim buoys. LundBorg donned a life vest and grabbed a rope, then worked with Loughman and Johnson to pull the young man to safety, undoubtedly saving his life.
On June 16, Park Ranger Dominic Goulette and state workers Claire Hines and Haley Spalding set out to Devoe Lake Beach in Rifle River Recreation Area to adjust swim buoys. They were alerted to an adult woman struggling to stay afloat outside the buoyed swim area. Hines swam to the woman and put her in a rescue hold to swim her back to shore. Goulette and Spalding assisted them in a lifeboat. The woman said she wouldn’t have made it without their help.
For more on these awards or general information on Michigan state parks, contact Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson at (517) 243-1477.