ELBERTA, MI - High waves stranded a man on a pier in northern Michigan before he was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
What became a life-threatening situation started as an night-time fishing trip on the Elberta pier, according to Coast Guard officials.
The man, who was in his 40s and not local to the Frank-Elberta area, planned to stay overnight on the pier on Thursday, Sept. 12. He woke Friday morning to find he couldnt get back to shore because 3- to 4-foot waves were crashing over the walkway, said Petty Officer Trent Ayer of Coast Guard Station Manistee.
He was rescued around 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, and handed over a gear box before getting on the Coast Guard vessel, Ayer said.
The man clung to the lighthouse as Coast Guard personnel nosed a boat up to the pier to rescue him.
With the water level so high this year, when theres 3 to 4 footers, its hard to walk to walk on the piers, Ayer said.
Ayer estimates the man was on the pier for more than 12 hours.
A local man, Glenn Rice, captured the rescue on video and posted it to YouTube.
While this situation worked out well, it could have gone the other way, Ayer said. With record or near-record high water levels around the Great Lakes this year, piers are more dangerous, he added.
During this year of record and near-record lake levels in the Great Lakes, drownings in Lake Michigan stand at 36, according to Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. There have been 76 in all five Great Lakes as of Sept. 18.
Ayer advises checking the weather before heading out on the water - whether its a pier or a boat, Lake Michigan or an inland lake - and always bringing a life jacket.
If there are high seas or wind of 15 knots or more, its probably not a good idea, especially with the high water levels this year, Ayer said. Its not worth your life to go out there.
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