Skip to main content
Publish date:

Virginia man tries to jet ski to Isle Royale, fails

He had to be rescued after becoming stranded on Lake Superior.

A man from Alexandria, Virginia found himself stranded in the middle of Lake Superior after trying to jet ski out to Isle Royale.

The 42-year-old set out from Grand Portage Marina, Minnesota, on Sunday, July 7, hoping to reach the island, which is technically a part of Michigan and located about 20 miles as the crow flies from Grand Portage.

But en route, the man found himself in some pretty serious trouble as he hit a fog bank and couldn't see where he was going – all the while his jet ski was running on fumes.

He couldn't get much cell service, but was eventually able to get through to a friend in Florida, who in turn called the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Grand Marais around 8:20 p.m.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office relayed the distress report to the Coast Guard and authorities in Michigan, which spread the word to ships on the lake to be on the lookout for the stranded man.

The man then made a call direct to Cook County just after 10 p.m., who said he could hear a ship's fog horn and said he was sounding his own horn.

He was able to send authorities an image of his compass that gave a better idea of his location, and it was noted there was a freight ship en route to his location that was about 15 miles out.

A search helicopter and a Coast Guard vessel had also been dispatched to look for him.

Eventually, he was picked up by the freighter, identified by the Duluth News Tribune as the Michipicoten, which found him 22 miles south-southwest of Isle Royale and 36 miles southeast of Grand Portage.

Here's roughly where he was found.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 11.25.04 AM

"Lake Superior can be a wonderful resource to enjoy, whether boating, fishing or swimming, but it can also turn deadly when weather changes," Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliason told BMTN. 

"It has been my experience in 50+ years of living on its shore that watercraft, no matter the size are at the mercy of the lake and the weather patterns which emerge quickly. Everyone who recreates on the lake should always have adequate emergency gear and methods for contact when situations arise."

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.


Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.

Grand Marais

Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

The sparsely populated, highly-vaccinated county has continuously had one of the lowest rates of COVID in the state.

Waits family screengrab CNN

Support for MN family after anti-maskers target child of school board chair

An online group opposing Kelsey Waits outed the child as transgender.

Pixabay - school - classroom

St. Paul schools add 2 days to winter break due to pandemic stress

The added days off are meant to acknowledge the stress the pandemic has caused.

Fardoussa Abdillahi

Charges: St. Cloud mother killed baby, placed him in dumpster

The 4-month-old baby was found by officers on Sunday morning.


1 dead in crash at Lake Street intersection in south Minneapolis

There have been 465 deaths on Minnesota roads this year, according to the state's traffic division.


St. Paul restaurateur's businesses burglarized a 6th time

The owner of The Gnome and Hope Breakfast Bar is asking politicians to help St. Paul business owners.

North Memorial Air Care

Teen suffers life-threatening injuries in head-on crash in southern MN

The 18-year-old was airlifted to a Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester.

foo fighters grohl mr rossi wikimedia

Foo Fighters abruptly cancel Gophers stadium show hours after announcing it

The band is looking for a new venue because of a disagreement over COVID protocols.


One of the wolves relocated to Isle Royale has died

Four wolves were moved to the island in Lake Superior by the National Park Service.

Screen Shot 2021-08-23 at 7.01.58 AM

Wildfire 200 acres in size burning on Isle Royale National Park

The National Park Service has closed a number of areas of the park.

Wolf dies after being captured for release on Isle Royale

The Park Service is trying to introduce more wolves to the island.

Wolves on Isle Royale nearly extinct

Scientists say one of the world's most closely studied predator populations might vanish within a few years. The Associated Press says a streak of bad luck has left only nine wolves on the island in western Lake Superior. Scientists blame a shortage of females, inbreeding, disease and starvation caused by the decline in moose populations.

Playtime over for the moose on Isle Royale ... the wolves are coming

The National Park Service confirmed they'll add 20-30 wolves to the island by 2023.