Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 1, 2014

Fisherman rescued from frigid bay waters

TRAVERSE CITY — A strong current swept a Traverse City man into Grand Traverse Bay after he slipped and fell while fishing near the Boardman River's outlet.

Traverse City Police Capt. Mike Ayling said Patrick Ruppen, 55, spent 15 minutes afloat in the frigid water late Wednesday, disoriented by a dense fog and unable to see the shore.

He said Ruppen had fished on the Boardman River mouth's western edge when he slipped and water filled his waders.

"He fell into the current and was swept out," Ayling said.

A man passing by the bay called 911 at about 10:15 p.m. and reported he heard a child or animal screaming in the water. Ayling said Sgt. Eric Bohrer and Officer Tim Smith arrived and heard Ruppen's cries for help.

They shined their flashlights and provided a signal to Ruppen, who floated on his back about 50 yards out, buoyed by trapped air in his waders. Ayling said Ruppen swam toward the lights, but the officers had to walk out and carry him ashore.

Ruppen suffered from hypothermia and couldn't speak. Emergency personnel took him to Munson Medical Center where he recovered and doctors released him.

Ruppen couldn't be reached for comment.

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