Strobe Light Helps Rescuers Locate Stranded Canoers in BWCAW

Updated: 06/13/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 06/13/2014 1:22 PM
By: Megan Stewart

Twin Cities officials helped successfully rescue eight people Thursday after a water search in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 

Five teenage Boy Scouts and three adults were rescued about 20 miles northeast of Ely on Moose Lake.

It's was a rainy and windy day in the region. The National Weather Service reported sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph at Ely Thursday afternoon, with gusts as high as 37 mph.

Officials say the group's two canoes capsized. They were separated on different shores in the BWCAW. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had been unable to get their boat through the choppy waters to the shorelines.

Local authorities using a float plane were able to get to the people stranded on the south side of an island. However, the plane was unable to reach two of the people stranded on a different shoreline.

The state patrol and the St. Paul Fire Department partnered to form the Minnesota Air Rescue Team (MART), which supports local agencies across the state in rescue missions when aerial support is needed.

MART was activated around 4 p.m. to help rescue the canoers. They arrived to the boundary waters area around 6:30 p.m.

Matt Nelson, the chief MART pilot, was able to spot the strobe light of the two stranded canoers, who were in a clearing of 60- to 70-foot tall trees.

Rescuers then dropped on a line into the clearing, hooked the canoers up to air-rescue vests and were towed a quarter-mile away, where the float plane was waiting.

Some were suffering from mild hypothermia and were flown to Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital for care.

This was MART's fourth rescue mission. The team assisted in rescuing children from the Lilydale mudslide. They started training in 2012.

Photo: YouTube/Minnesota DPS

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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