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U.P. deputy honored for saving man whose canoe sank in Lake Superior

Sep 23, 2022 11:09AM ● By Editor

Deputy Matt Eberly, of the Keweenaw County Sheriff's Office, received the Lifesaving Award for his efforts in the rescue of a man whose canoe sank on June 19, 2022, in Lake Superior just outside Eagle Harbor. Eberly (left) is seen here receiving the award from Sheriff Curt Pennala. Photo: Provided by Keweenaw County Sheriff's Office

By Justine Loftom of • September 22, 2022

An Upper Peninsula sheriff’s deputy has been honored with the Lifesaving Award after “risking his own life” to rescue a distressed boater whose canoe had sank in Lake Superior.

After searching for 45 minutes, Keweenaw County Deputy Matt Eberly found the subject “lying lifeless in a fetal position,” according to a news release.

The rescue effort began around 2:40 p.m. on Sunday, June 19, just outside Eagle Harbor, which is located on the northwest area of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Dispatch received a report of a subject in a canoe who looked like they were having trouble getting back into the harbor. Moments later, it was reported that the canoe had sank and the subject was in distress.

Keweenaw County deputies and two private boats searched the area where the canoe had sank. Stormy conditions, including wind, waves and lightning, forced them to return to dock before finding the distressed man.

Meanwhile, Eberly, a U.S. Marines veteran and retired conservation officer, heard the call go out. He was working ATV patrol but quickly returned the vehicle, procured the sheriff’s office rescue personal water craft and proceeded to the scene.

After 45 minutes, and with the help of citizens in the lighthouse, Eberly found the man “lying lifeless in a fetal position.” Eberly secured the subject to the side of the personal water craft and returned to the harbor where additional aid was provided.

The subject was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for severe hypothermia and water intake.

“It is without a doubt that a life was saved that day thanks to the quick actions and outstanding performance put forth by Deputy Eberly,” the sheriff’s office said in a release. “We would like to thank Deputy Eberly for his service to our country and the County of Keweenaw.”

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