College student dies of suspected hypothermia while camping

ISHPEMING – Police say a 19-year-old Marquette County man died early this morning of suspected hypothermia while camping in the remote Rocking Chair Lakes area, about 17 miles north of Ishpeming.

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt said the man was one of six 19 to 20-year-old Michigan Technological University students on a hiking trip in the area. The man, who is not yet being publicly named, reportedly left the campsite in the early morning hours to retrieve firewood but did not return.

After searching for some time, fellow campers were able to locate the man, who was wet and cold.

Zyburt said the man’s friends built a fire to warm him up, and eventually helped him back to the base camp when his condition seemed to improve.

Once arriving back at camp, Zyburt said the man’s condition then appeared to quickly deteriorate.

“After approximately 30 minutes, the victim started acting strange,” Zyburt said. “He had slurred speech, trouble breathing and was disoriented. His health rapidly declined to the point of becoming unconscious.”

The other campers reportedly attempted to perform CPR on the victim, and called 911 around 4:30 a.m. when they were able to find cellular reception, said Zyburt.

Emergency responders arrived on scene just before 8 a.m.

The victim appeared to be deceased upon the arrival of emergency responders, Zyburt said, and was officially pronounced dead later in the morning. It was suspected that he died of hypothermia.

Zyburt said the campers likely were not dressed appropriately for weather conditions.

Responding agencies included the Marquette County Sheriffs Office, Marquette County Search and Rescue, Rescue Unit 131 and UP Health Systems EMS. Zyburt said Valley Med attempted to provide air support, but the terrain was too rough to land. Passersby on ATVs also helped in the search, he said.

Check back to The Mining Journal for updates on this developing story.