COLEHARBOR, N.D. — A Michigan man working in the western North Dakota oil patch suffered no serious injuries when he was stranded overnight on a lake island, where he used a pickup truck key and driftwood to carve letters to his loved ones.
Eric Gauthier, 34, was fishing on Lake Audubon on Sunday when winds gusting up to 60 mph tipped his canoe. He swam 200 yards to the island — barely making it through waves 4-5 feet high — using thoughts of his fiancee in Michigan, Bonnie Trapp, to push himself.
“I was on a swimming team for 15 years, but I was right on the edge,” he told The Bismarck Tribune. “The last time I went under (the rolling waves), I thought that was it. I thought of Bonnie and I thought, ‘Don’t quit yet,’ and then my foot touched bottom.”
While on the island, Gauthier stripped off his clothes and dried them, ran laps to boost his circulation and used grass as insulation to keep warm when he was unable to start a fire.
Trapp called police Sunday night when she became worried because she hadn’t heard from Gauthier. Local, state and federal officials searched for him with help from the Civil Air Patrol and an Air Force rescue coordination center in Florida. Officials narrowed the search area with help from a cellphone signal and spotted Gauthier from the air Monday afternoon.
Gauthier was rescued, taken to a hospital in Garrison to be checked out, and released, according to the Minot Daily News.
“It was a happy ending,” state Game and Fish Department warden Tim Larson told the Minot newspaper.
Trapp told the Tribune she’d like to go to the island to retrieve the love letter Gauthier wrote to her.
“I didn’t think I’d ever see him again,” she said.
This story has been corrected to show Gauthier is 34 years old, not 37.
This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.