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Rescued Kayaker Tells Of Cold, Buggy Night In The Woods

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A Two Harbors woman was rescued from Cloquet Valley State Park after she got separated from her group during a kayaking trip.

Sue Vaughn, 62, said she's used to being outdoors and in a kayak and had plans to spend a few hours on the Cloquet River Saturday afternoon.

Vaughn said she's prone to heat stroke and told her friends to go ahead without her while she drank water and ate a snack.  She thought she'd catch up to them later.

She never found her friends. Eventually she decided to paddle back up river to her vehicle but ran into trouble going against the strong current.

"I couldn't move; I was stuck there," she said. "That's when I realized, 'I'm probably going to be here overnight."

She said she realized she needed to get off the water before dark. Vaughn left her kayak on the shoreline, climbed a hill and spent the next eight hours alone and in the dark.  It was raining, she had no shelter and no way to call for help.

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad got the call for help around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Capt. Rick Slatten led a team of 12 who searched the area all night.

"Survival events start out like any other day," he said.

Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Vaughn heard rescuers calling her name.

"Well, thank god, because I'm cold, and I need to brush my teeth," Vaughn remembered thinking. "Let's just say it was the worst night of my life."

She was dehydrated, covered in bug bites and had the beginning stages of hypothermia.

"She was generally suffering from a cold, mosquito-bitten night in the woods," Slatten said.

She was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated and released.

Vaughn said she wants to kayak that part of the river again.

Slatten said groups shouldn't split off individually while in unknown areas of nature.

He said it's a good idea to bring supplies in case of an emergency.


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