Disoriented snowmobiler lost in 20-degree weather found struggling in 2 feet of snow in Oakland County

snowmobiler rescued
Photo credit Getty images - FILE
By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) An Oakland County man is expected to make a full recovery after his snowmobile got stuck, and then he got lost over the weekend at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.

According to authorities, the 49-year-old West Bloomfield man had been snowmobiling with his 54-year-old friend at the 3,745-acre park on Saturday. At around 3 p.m., the friend stopped at a meeting area, but the other man never arrived.

After searching for about an hour, the man contacted law enforcement for help, expressing increased concern about his missing friend’s health conditions.

Officer Roxanne Ostrowski, White Lake Township Police Department, received the call for help at 5:45 p.m. and called Thomas Bissett, Pontiac Lake Recreation Area supervisor, for help.

Due to the area’s difficult terrain and vast trail system, Bissett contacted local Department of Natural Resources conservation officers. Familiar with the maze of trails, Conservation Officers Danielle Zubek, Jacob Griffin and Christopher Knights used their DNR patrol snowmobiles to search the area.

At 6:48 p.m., with temperatures ranging in the low to mid-20s, Knights found the missing snowmobiler walking in snow about 2 feet deep near Maceday Lake Rd. and Cross Rd.

Disoriented and displaying signs of hypothermia, the man said he got stuck on his snowmobile and abandoned it but was unsure where the snowmobile was.

Knights and Zubek escorted the man to awaiting ambulance. After he was evaluated by EMS at the scene, he refused additional medical attention, and his friend took him home.

Zubek found the missing snowmobile Sunday morning, the DNR said, on a track that had been covered in heavy snow.

“Everyone is grateful for the positive outcome and that the snowmobiler will fully recover,” said Sgt. Shane Webster, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “We are proud of the strong effort and professionalism from our conservation officers who were involved, along with the other first responders. A reminder to always have a plan when you go on snowmobile trips – make sure someone knows where you are going, who you are with and when you plan to return. Having a plan in place can save lives and ensure everyone has a positive and safe experience.”

Read more about snowmobile safety at Michigan.gov/RideRight.