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Michigan DNR officers help Livonia family stranded in Upper Peninsula

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for April 10, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for April 10, 2023 02:41

LUCE COUNTY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources helped a Livonia woman and her four children and family dog who were stranded in the Upper Peninsula over the weekend.

DNR officials say officers Justin Vinson and Cole VanOosten responded to a call for assistance from Luce County dispatchers at about 11:21 p.m. on Saturday. 

Officials say 37-year-old Stephanie Knapp traveled north from Wayne County to view northern lights, eventually running out of gas along Luce County Road 407. Another traveler, 39-year-old Brian Gorski, of Allen Park, offered Knapp a ride to Grand Marais to get gas.

A friend, who had been in contact with Knapp, called 911 when they didn't hear from her for hours, according to a press release.

That's when Vinson and VanOosten were called for assistance by Luce County deputy Zachariah Kitzman and arrived at the staging area to help with the search at about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Kitzman located Gorski's vehicle, which was stuck in the snow, only making it one and a half miles from where he left Knapp.

DNR officials say Vinson and VanOosten used their department-issued snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle to drive to Gorski and helped him get his vehicle out of the snow. VanOosten drove Kitzman to his patrol vehicle, while Vinson continued on to Knapp, who was located at about 1:15 a.m. trying to dig her vehicle out of the snow.

After agreeing to call a towing service, the officers created a campfire for Knapp and her children and dog. The officers traveled back to the staging area after Knapp's car was towed to nearest plowed section of the road and found Gorski stuck in the snow again.

Officials say Gorski spoke with the towing service company, who offered to help.

"Fortunately, this situation had a very good ending," said DNR District Law Supervisor Lt. Eugene "Skip" Hagy in a press release. "However, it just as easily could have ended much differently."

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