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Mich. hunter’s recovery ‘miraculous’ after being struck by large tree

Doctors had told the hunter’s family that he may not walk again


Joel Bissell

By Matt Durr

IRON COUNTY, Mich. — A man who was deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula on the second day of firearm season made a “miraculous” recovery after a tree fell on him and he had to be rescued by two officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Officers Alex VanWagner and Kyle Romzek were dispatched to the scene after receiving a report of an injured hunter and when they arrived, another hunter in the group led them to the area where the man was hurt. The man explained that the group used radios to contact one another throughout the day to check in on each other. When the victim did not reply to a call, some of the hunters went to check on him and discovered the tree had fallen on him, likely due to the high winds that day.

The officers determined that an ambulance would not be able to get back to the victim, so they found another access point that could be reached by truck. The officers loaded EMS personnel and their equipment onto a patrol truck and drove back out to the injured hunter. EMS personnel determined the man had possible head and spinal injuries before loading the man onto a backboard and transporting him out of the woods with the patrol truck.

After getting to the main road, the hunter was loaded into an ambulance and transported to Iron River Hospital before he was then sent to a hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin via EMS MedEvac helicopter.

VanWagner made contact with the hunter’s family a few days later and they told the officer that when the hunter arrived at the hospital he was in critical condition and may not survive. Doctors also told the family the victim may not walk again after he underwent surgery on his head and vertebrae.

However, shortly after the family spoke with VanWagner, the hunter regained movement in his limbs and stood up for the first time since the tree fell on him. He was also able to have a conversation with his family for the first time since the incident happened.

Doctors at the Wisconsin hospital described the man’s recovery as “miraculous” according to VanWagner and the officer says he is continuing to stay in touch with the family.

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