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Park Staff Rescue Man Who Fell From Cliff

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

National Park News

On the afternoon of October 13th, park staff were notified by US Coast Guard Station Bayfield of a 911 call reporting that a man was stranded on a rock in Lake Superior somewhere between the mainland sea caves and Meyers Beach. The search area included over three miles of cliffs and rugged shoreline at the western end of the park. Jacob Achterberg, 28, of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, was hiking near the Lakeshore Trail with a group when he slipped on loose rocks and slid down a steep slope and over a cliff edge, falling 35 feet into Lake Superior.  Achterberg said that he pushed himself away from the cliff face when he realized he was going over the edge in order to avoid hitting rocks below and landed feet first in the water.  He then swam approximately 30 yards along the cliff face and found and crawled onto a submerged ledge. The water temperature was 50 degrees and the air temperature was 54 degrees. Achterberg, wearing only a t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, was in the water for approximately an hour before being rescued by the park’s multi-divisional search and rescue team. The team arrived to find Achterberg struggling to cling to the ledge as two-foot waves washed into him. The crew of the first NPS vessel on scene gave Achterberg a lifejacket, which he immediately put on but was unable to zip due to numbness in his hands caused by the cold conditions. The crew of the second NPS vessel maneuvered close to the cliff face and helped Achterberg on board using the vessel’s loading ramp. NPS staff immediately began treating Achterberg for hypothermia and brought him to an NPS dock at Little Sand Bay.  Achterberg was then transported by the Red Cliff Ambulance Service to a hospital in Ashland, where he was treated and released.



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